New York City FC vs. Minnesota United FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
Yankee Stadium – Bronx, N.Y.
Thursday, June 29 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
A number of MLS teams are preparing for midweek action, and New York City FC and Minnesota United are among that group. The difference between those two clubs and the rest of the pack, however, is that they are preparing for a league match and not the next round of the U.S. Open Cup.
NYCFC will host Minnesota United at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night in the first match of Week 18. Both sides head into this clash on undefeated streaks, but NYCFC are the hotter side right now given that they are coming off an impressive road win over a rival and have not lost in their last four. The Eastern Conference's third-place side has also been playing some pretty good soccer, thanks to David Villa's exploits up front and Yangel Herrera's return in the midfield.
Minnesota, meanwhile, continue to struggle to piece together consistent performances. They have four points over their last two matches, and they know they will need to continue that kind of form in order to prevail in its first trip to the Big Apple. Four points currently separate the Loons from a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the gap might widen if they are unable to turn in a more solid shift.
New York City FC
NYCFC have to be feeling good right now.
On top of beating the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena for the first time this past weekend, NYCFC are riding a three-game winning streak and four-match unbeaten run. Patrick Vieira's attack has been clicking, with the club scoring two goals in each of those fixtures. Villa has led the way with a pair of goals and two assists, but he has had help from Jack Harrison.
NYCFC could still be without injured playmaker Maximiliano Moralez for this Thursday bout, but have found a solid replacement in Tommy McNamara. The club is relatively healthy aside from that, and should again have the strong central midfield tandem of Herrera and Alex Ring on the field. Herrera and Ring helped boss proceedings against the Red Bulls, and will aim to build on that impressive showing here.
Speaking to NYCFC.com, head coach Patrick Vieira expressed concern about being able to apply the same intensity on Thursday.
"The challenge is to see if we can play two games with the same intensity in a row," said Vieira. “If we don’t have the same concentration and focus that we had against Red Bulls, we will not have any chance of winning against Minnesota."
The backline will have to be sharp, however, as it is going up against a forward in Christian Ramirez that has found the back of the net nine times this year. Ramirez will be sure to test likely starting center backs Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot, but another strong outing from them could go a long way towards NYCFC recording their second straight shutout and keeping their overall good run of form going.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: GK Sean Johnson (USA)
- Injury Report: OUT – F Khiry Shelton (hamstring injury); QUESTIONABLE – M Maxi Moralez (calf injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Eirik Johansen – R.J. Allen, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat – Yangel Herrera, Alex Ring – Jack Harrison, Tommy McNamara, Rodney Wallace – David Villa
Notes: NYCFC are unbeaten in their last four home games (3-0-1). They are averaging 2.3 goals over that four-game stretch. NYCFC started the season 2-1-1 at home and averaged 2.0 goals per game to start the campaign. ... Alexander Ring leads all MLS players with 72 tackles this year. No other player has more than 59 tackles.
Minnesota United FC
Coming from behind by two goals to get a result could feel like a win, but it did not for Minnesota United this past weekend.
Minnesota rallied to tie the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-2, but were left frustrated with not prevailing in the Western Conference showdown. Loons head coach Adrian Heath even went as far as saying that his side lost two points on the day, and that reinforcements were needed.
None will come in time for the expansion club's first trip to the Big Apple, meaning that Minnesota will have to find answers from within. The good news is that the attack should be at full strength, as Christian Ramirez, Miguel Ibarra, Kevin Molino and Johan Venegas are all healthy.
Still, Minnesota United need to sort themselves out defensively. The club has given up eight goals in its last four matches, and not posted a clean sheet since a May 27 meeting with Orlando City.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – M Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury), M/D Thomas de Villardi (left Achilles injury), D Joseph Greenspan (concussion), D Marc Burch (sports hernia surgery), F Abu Danladi (right thigh injury), D Vadim Demidov (left knee injury), D Brent Kallman (right knee injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Bobby Shuttleworth – Kevin Venegas, Jermaine Taylor, Francisco Calvo, Jerome Thiesson – Sam Cronin, Ibson – Kevin Molino, Johan Venegas, Miguel Ibarra – Christian Ramirez
Notes: Minnesota have conceded seven headed goals this season, tied for the most of any MLS team. New York, meanwhile, have three headed goals in their last four games, as many as they had in their first 13 matches. ... Minnesota have yet to win a game away from home this season (0-6-2). In their most recent road game, they fell to Real Salt Lake 1-0. It was the first time they had not conceded multiple goals in a road game. ... In 1,037 minutes with Sam Cronin on the field, Minnesota has conceded an average of 1.3 goals per 90 minutes played. In 591 minutes without him, that number increases to 3.5 goals conceded per 90 minutes played.
This encounter will mark the first time these two sides meet.
- Referee: Armando Villarreal
- Senior Assistant Referee, near side: Peter Manikowski
- Junior Assistant Referee, far side: Brian Dunn
- 4th Official: Mark Kadlecik