Yankee Stadium. Big on history. Small on pretty much everything else, most noticeably the field which looks the size of a large suburban backyard.
NYCFC. Small on history. Big on money, Big on stars, big on potential. You almost feel for City Blue 2.0 (3.0?). Surely nobody expected Andrea Pirlo to be so lacklustre, or for David Villa to blame his teammates for everything. Or for Jason Kreis to throw his squad under the bus.
MLS newcomers have a rough go, adjusting new players to the league, new management to the sometimes unnecessarily complex roster rules, and new fans to a new way of supporting a club. New York fans certainly have done very well getting out to support their team.
The other parts, they hope, will come soon. Even a savvy vet like Kreis has failed to put a balanced roster together (something other teams in the league have also failed to do, to be fair), and the veteran MLS players he is relying on - Ned Grabavoy, Andrew Jacobson, Chris Wingert - haven't exactly risen to the occasion.
Match Talking Points
That brings us to TFCvNYCFC, take 3. The first meeting was awful. NYC came and beat the living tar out of Giovinco, in a rough and tough display that earned them a 2-1 victory at BMO. The next game was defenseless, run-and-gun soccer that ended in a 4-4 draw. TFC had best be up for this game - their playoff hopes aren't safe yet, and the dream of a home playoff game is slipping through our collective fingers.
Giovinco certainly looked dangerous against the Revolution in Sunday's loss. He looks fit and he looks up for double nutmegs all day; he looks like the player we've seen all season. The team around him wasn't defensively stable. Without a midfield presence to challenge higher up the field, our inconsistent defending will let us down every time. Without Collen Warner and Benoit Cheyrou, it will be hard for TFC to control the pace of games. Fortunately, both are back available for selection.
Speaking of defending, I'm starting to consider a Kickstarter campaign to fund Perquis' ticket to any other MLS market. If the MLS Player's Union numbers are to be believed (which Dave assures me they aren't), Perquis makes $372,500.00 to do his job rather badly.
#TheNephew, meanwhile, does the same job, only with more athleticism and fewer mistakes, for $115,600.00. So why can't we start Eriq Zavaleta? I don't know. But Perquis, even without last week's totally avoidable own goal, has worn my patience thin. Back to Poland/France/wherever he's from. Or, hey! I hear Colorado's collecting aging players.
TFC Starting XI
This is what I'm expecting from TFC. A strong attacking diamond, with players like Giovinco and Osorio being able to hold the ball in the cramped space that is NYCFC's home field. While this is good, I'd actually prefer to see Morgan at left back, Morrow at right back, with Williams and Zavaleta in the middle. Warner would draw in for Altidore, and play the double-pivot with Cheyrou. Osorio, Bradley, and Delgado would play across the middle, with Giovinco up top. A nice, stable formation for a road game that needs to be a win. Who knows, though. Maybe we'll win 5-4.
Keys to the Game
Not conceding a bunch of terrible goals seems like a good place to start. Covering TFC makes me feel a bit boneheaded at times, because my analysis seems to devolve into "they just need to be less bad". Which they do, of course, but being stable at the back first and foremost is how you win championships.
TFC has also continued to escape justice at times because Sebastian Giovinco is the best player in MLS, because angry Michael Bradley is certainly in that conversation as well, and because sometime you just get lucky. All of these things will run out. We already know NYCFC has an answer for Giovinco. It is just a matter of whether they decide to stamp him into the dirt or not. TFC needs to control the game and have a nice, well-executed win. I'm running out of fingernails.
The game kicks off at 7:30 ET, and you can catch it on TSN.