We just did this two weeks ago, the New England Revolution faced New York City at Yankee Stadium. I was there, I was disappointed. Not with the Revs, but with a lot of other things.
The field in the Bronx is still too small, the grass is still cut for baseball and not soccer so no one can stay on their feet, and the ball is never on the ground cause even ground passes bounce up on players every other touch. Also the cheeseburger was dry as heck and I paid like $12 for it.
We’re going to flash back to the other NYCFC home game against the Revs, a proper contest on the proper accommodations of Red Bull Arena - a fantastic back-and-forth 3-2 affair where the Revs and Cityzens traded late goals including a Tommy McNamara winner in the 88th minute. Matt Turner made 7 saves including a first half penalty in the victory.
This contest is effectively a snapshot of these two teams in 2021. NYC dominated chances, mustering a staggeringly impressive 3.2 expected goals (xG) to the Revs 1.5 on 9 of 18 shooting compared to the Revs 5 of 8 on the night, though it should be noted the PK attempt is worth around .75-.80 of that NYC total. Matt Turner padded his ridiculous shotstopping totals by keeping over one expected goal out of the net and helped NYC fail to again meet their impressive analytic output.
Last week the shorthanded NYC squad went into Nashville, probably the hardest road match in the East if not all of MLS, and not only lost 2-0 but picked up a couple of suspensions in the process. The equally shorthanded Revs went on the road to Philly without their three DPs in the starting lineup, though the Union were also missing several players due to international call-ups, and picked up a 1-0 win thanks to Matt Polster’s back post finish in the first half.
That’s effectively been the difference for these two teams. One side has found ways to win despite not always playing their best and another has consistently been playing their best and not getting wins, especially on the road where NYC has just 9 points from 10 matches with a 2-5-3 record. That road record is simply not good enough to contend at the top of the East, where the Revs hold a 18 point advantage with a key three games in hand for NYC down the stretch.
There’s been a lot of talk about power rankings and analytics between these two teams on the Revs Twitter hashtag and I’m sure there will be more after this match and we can dive into that next week, especially after knowing the result today. What we know right now are the Revs are in a tremendous position to keep NYC well below them in the standings, New England is getting healthier and getting their internationals back and are once again rather fortunate to be catching an opponent when they will not be at their potential best.
As always we talk to our good friend Christian Smith of Hudson River Blue but we do so for the last time with Christian as the managing editor:
A message to our readers: #NYCFC https://t.co/wbCqkZkslT— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) September 9, 2021
We wish Christian the best in his future endeavors and I’m sure we’ll chat again here at some point. Perhaps a playoff rematch in November?
Anyway, two weeks ago left a bad taste in my mouth...no, not that dry, lame cheeseburger from Yankee Stadium. Only a watching a victory in person can rid me of this feeling so I’ll see you lot at the tailgate in a few hours.
TBM: So Maxi Morales is going to miss this weekend’s game due to a red card suspension, who’s most likely to take his place in the lineup and how is that going to affect the team overall.
CS: I can see Santi Rodriguez stepping into that spot. With Maxi in the last year of his contract and no word on whether or not he’s resigning, Santi has been pegged by onlookers as his heir apparent. Santi also has a really good chemistry with striker Taty Castellanos, making his case for replacing Maxi that much better. While Maxi is a key player in our setup, NYCFC is very much a “next man up” team right now. I expect things will go fine.
TBM: Nashville is a tough place to play, Revs lost there as well, but went specifically went wrong for NYC in that game besides the red card incident?
CS: NYCFC were using an extremely makeshift back line in that game — City were missing Maxime Chanot, James Sands, Alex Callens, and Gudi Thorarinsson due to international duty. Center back Vuk Latinovich had never started an MLS game before until last week. As far as his CB partner, Alfredo Morales is typically a holding midfielder. The only defensive starter NYCFC maintained was right back Anton Tinnerholm. Above all, that kind of makeshift defensive corps cost them in Nashville.
TBM: I know there’s games in hand to play out, but do you think NYC can overtake the Revs in the East without a win this weekend?
CS: No, I don’t think so. I do think NYCFC is the team to beat in the East, especially at home. But Taty’s streakiness in front of net coupled with unfortunate international breakthroughs have been costly. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. But the Revs will have to drop a lot of points and have a mini collapse.
LB: Gloster (wishful thinking, will probably be Malte Amundsen)
CAM: Santi Rodriguez
Héber is still unlikely to play due to recovering from a knee injury
Maxi Moralez and Jesus Medina are both suspended
Final score: 2-1, Revs. The turf plays into the home team’s advantage. It’s close, but New England edges it out late in the second half.