It’s a quandary that New York City FC coach Jason Kreis might not have to address for another week.
Lampard is traveling with the team for its upcoming road games at Columbus on Wednesday and at LA on Sunday, but the midfielder is listed as questionable as he continues to recover from a quad strain that kept him off the field against D.C. United last Thursday.
In that game, Poku was arguably the man of the match. Playing behind David Villa, the 23-year-old Ghanaian was a threat seemingly every time he touched the ball.
“In the second half Poku was again involved in a lot of really good stuff,” Kreis said after the game. “For me it was important to see him play well again, it was important to see him last through 90 minutes.”
It led to the inevitable question in the post-match press conference: What to do with Poku when Lampard is fully fit?
“Every coach of every good team has struggles making decisions. I would like to be in that position, I really would,” Kreis said “I prefer that position to having lost and trying to figure out what’s the next lineup I can put out there to give us a chance to win. I prefer to win, have important players coming back and having to make critical decisions whether or not they enter the starting lineup.”
Kreis also hopes his team’s performance will be a springboard for the final 10 games of the regular season. NYCFC is one point below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, although sixth-place Montreal has three games in hand.
While Poku, Villa and Andrea Pirlo made headlines after the win against D.C., the backline of Angelino, Shay Facey, Jason Hernandez and RJ Allen performed admirably and limited mistakes to keep United at bay.
“Obviously it’s a couple of execution plays, you’re making good defensive tackles. [Jason Hernandez] made two good defensive plays in the back,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders said after the game. “It’s just cutting down on mistakes and giving the ball away in bad spots and we did that tonight. We had good cover for each other. The fight was there, the will was there. The intensity was good and that helped a lot.”
It was in stark contrast to the team’s previous four games at Yankee Stadium, which saw NYCFC give up three or more goals in each contest en route to conceding a total of 14 times.
“The goal is to get a shutout each and every game. It’s difficult because of the attacking threats the opposing teams have are really good,” Facey said. “We have to be on our ‘A’ game. … We just need to concentrate and I’m sure shutouts will be coming soon.”