June 6, 2015 - 7pm
PPL Park - Chester, PA
The Comcast Network and MLS Live
In both meetings with NYCFC this season, the Union have used late goals to deny the expansion side of extra points. The first match saw a Vincent Nogueira stoppage time winner earn the Union their first of the season. The special bonus for Union fans from that game was seeing the Frenchmen smile for possibly the first time ever. It was also the first game where Eric Ayuk looked like a real option in the Union attack, constantly burning the NYCFC outside backs. The star of the game though was Mix Diskerud who was all over the field, controlling the entire flow of the game. It should also be noted as the beginning, and high point of the John McCarthy era.
Just 5 days later the teams faced off in a baseball stadium. Once again a late goal stole points away from NYCFC. The goal came from CJ Sapong, his first in the Blue and Gold. That game also saw 8 yellow cards handed out, 3 for the Union and 5 for NYCFC. A defensive switch limited the effectiveness of the stellar Ayuk from the first match. At that point in the season the Union's win and draw in back to back games were the best series of results the team had earned. It really looked like the Union were turning a corner to improve their season.
The Union are ending a busy week with their third game in 8 days. In April the Union played a similar stretch that included both previous meetings with NYCFC. Along with the win and draw against NYCFC, the Union also lost to New England in that stretch.
The Union are still banged up with Blake, Lahoud, Vitoria, Casey, and Hoppenot still listed on the leagues injury list. It appears that Gaddis has been removed from the injury list, however, there has not been any mention if he will be ready and game fit. The NYCFC list is longer though with George John and Tony Taylor definitely out and Josh Williams, Javier Calle, Ned Grabavoy, and RJ Allen also listed on the injury report after missing last week's game.
Neither team are missing players due to suspensions, however Vincent Nogueira and Kwame Watson-Siriboe are both one yellow card away from a suspension due to accumulation. The biggest absentee though will be Mix Diskerud, who has been called up for the USMNT friendlies in Europe. The Union also get to completely avoid NYCFC with Frank Lampard this season as he is yet to arrive after the end of the Premier League season.
Keys to the Game
1. Take advantage of chances - Against DC the Union attack was actually creating chances. Even to the point that Bill Hamid was featured in the team of the week. At 1-0 Andrew Wenger had a perfect opportunity to grow the lead, but his unlucky start to the season continued as he clanged his shot off the crossbar. A one-goal lead hasn't been enough in the previous games against NYCFC, so it will be important to push any possible lead to two or more goals.
2. Protect Sylvestre - While Sylvestre has been better than the other options the Union have played in net this season, it is still important not to force him to keep them in a game. The on-loan keeper is good for a few saves a game, but is no league All-Star. NYCFC has only scored 10 goals this season so it isn't the most dangerous attack in the league, however 3 of their goals have come against the Union.
3. Break Andrew Wenger out of his slump - At the beginning of the season he was pegged to have a breakout year. It would be an understatement to call his form to this point in the season 'ice cold.' If he can't at least get the wheels moving against the worst team in the league, I'm not sure he ever will. An in-form, Wenger would go a long way in finding a way back into the top half of the conference.
I'm feeling optimistic about this one. The Union are slowly playing better as the season goes on and New York City is spinning their tires at this point in their inaugural season. The defense holds strong and posts a shutout while the offense puts up 3. That's right, I'm predicting 3 goals scored in 2015. Lots of Dooping this weekend!