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Match Preview: Philadelphia Union Host New York City FC

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The Big Apple's first club is visiting the City of Brotherly Love for the first time. With no past history, the Union will be looking to get the series off on the right foot.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The what: Philadelphia Union vs New York City FC

The where: PPL Park, Chester, PA

The when: Saturday, April 11th at 4pm (6ABC)

The history:

With a disastrous start to the 2015 campaign, the Union will be hoping the opening of a new chapter against one of the expansion duo is enough to kick start the season.

These teams have never faced off, but there are some familiar faces. Goalkeeper Josh Saunders spent three years on the LA Galaxy from 2010-2012. Former RSL boss Jason Kreis has brought a trio of RSLers with him to NYCFC in Sebastian Velasquez, Ned Grabavoy, and Chris Wingert.

The most notable former opponent is Josh Williams, who as a member of the Columbus Crew saw red against the Union. On the flip side, Union fans will remember Andrew Jacobson from the expansion season in Philly. He was drafted in the expansion draft from DC United and started 13 games that season. He ended up with FC Dallas in 2011 and has grown into a strong league veteran.

Team News

NYCFC have no players currently serving suspensions and only George John and Shay Facey listed on the injury report. David Villa is back in training this week and should be back in time for the game.

They also have a few players returning from international duty such as forwards Khiry Shelton who was with the US U-23 team and Adam Nemec who scored in a Euro qualifier during his time away.

For Philadelphia the outlook doesn't look quite as bright. Zach Pfeffer is returning from suspension, but Fred is still out for another game after his red. On the injury front CJ Sapong returned last week, but Cristian Maidana, Eric Bird, Conor Casey, and Vincent Noguiera still were listed on the injury report this week. Fabinho also hobbled off last weekend, but was not on the list. Another piece of injury news came out in midweek about an injury to Fernando's hand:

In non-injury or suspension new, there has been a shakeup in net. Jim Curtin announced in his press conference that the team has given Rais M'Bolhi time off to "regain his confidence" and will be starting last year's USL keeper of the year John McCarthy against NYCFC. This should be interesting.

My Keys To The Game

  1. Don't give David Villa the chance to run at the defense with the ball.
    The international star has shown varying form this season, being mostly invisible against Orlando City, but looked top quality against New England. If you give him an opportunity to take control of the game, he will put on a show.
  2. Protect the rookies
    On Sunday, the Union put threw Raymond Lee into the fray as the game was winding down and in a sink or swim situation he was barely treading water. It was the man he was marking on both the equalizer and winner that ended up with the goal. John McCarthy will be making his debut this weekend. The less McCarthy has to do, the better off the Union will be.
  3. Come together as a team
    It has been a rough start to the season and a player leaked to be a negative impact on the team has been sent away. When a statement like that is made, there needs to be a reaction. A tight performance at the back and the capitalizing on chances in attack have been missing, but this is the week to put all the pieces together.
Prediction

This has to be the week, right? NYCFC hasn't looked the strongest away from home and it is a statement week for the Union. I'm still expecting Fernando to be the only goal scorer, but a 2-1 win feels right. Expect a rough start though and an early goal against McCarthy to welcome him to the league.