ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — When things are going well, coaches don’t want to change anything — not the formation, not the starting XI.
That’s the case for New York City FC, which have won three of their last four and are unbeaten in their last six.
But that also creates a dilemma for Dome Torrent.
What to do with Alexandru Mitrita?
The "Romanian Giovinco" has played a total of 14 minutes over the last three games, all coming in a substitute performance in a 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC on April 27. The Designated Player has been hampered by an ankle injury suffered in the first half of a 2-0 win over D.C. United on April 21, a game in which he scored one of his two goals on the season.
Torrent said Mitrita was progressing — he did gym work Tuesday at the club’s training facility and was slated to train fully in Los Angeles Wednesday ahead of the club’s match against the Galaxy Saturday (4 pm ET | ESPN, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
But Torrent said there’s no guarantee a fully fit Mitrita enters the starting XI.
“I know how important ‘Mitri’ is for us, but Taty [Castellanos] as well. Taty deserves to play as well as well,” Torrent said. “That happens when you decide to play 3-4-3, you play just with three offensive players. That means, we have right now seven players. I know how tough it is for the players to play in that moment.”
Torrent said the players in his starting XI, especially the attacking trio of Maxi Moralez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Heber were “amazing” in a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. Moralez opened the scoring in the sixth minute and then set up Tajouri-Shradi’s third goal of the season in the 49th minute.
“I have to be fair when I decide that,” Torrent said. “It’s about the performance. It doesn’t matter if the name is ‘Mitri,’ if the name is Heber, if I watch in the training session [and] the feeling is much better [with Tajouri-Shradi] than Mitri or other players, for sure [we] play [Tajouri-Shradi].”
With or without Mitrita, NYCFC will be looking to continue their much improved road form at Dignity Health Sports Complex Saturday afternoon. The Cityzens are 2-1-2 away from Yankee Stadium this year.
It’s in stark contrast to last year, when NYCFC were 4-9-4 on the road.
“Everyone knows exactly what to do, especially in the end of the games,” defender Anton Tinnerholm said. “If you look at D.C. away and Montreal away, we were really solid in the defense, especially in the end. They don’t create any chances in the end. That’s a really good sign for the team.”
While NYCFC are confident on the road, they meet a Galaxy team that has started the season 6-0-0 at home for the first time since their inaugural season.
“Of course they are a good team and it’s going to be a tough game,” Tinnerholm said. “But in the form we are right now we are going for another three points.”