To kickoff the 2015 MLS season, NYCFC and Orlando City SC played a 1-1 draw in both their first MLS matches. Now, for their first games in the 2017 season, the two teams square off again. Since their inaugural MLS match, there have been tremendous changes to both teams rosters and coaching staffs. Neither team has the same head coach, Patrick Vieira replaced Jason Kreis, and Jason Kreis took over for Adrian Heath. In addition to coaching changes, there has been a lot of player turnover. NYCFC only have two players from their first starting lineup, Mix Diskerud and David Villa. Mix Diskerud is rumored to be on the way out. For OCSC five players remain: Seb Hines, Rafael Ramos, Cristian Higuita, Kaka, and Carlos Rivas.
NYCFC vs Orlando City SC: Three Players to Watch
Last season, NYCFC lost twice to OCSC, 2-1 and 1-0. However, with the addition of several players, they are primed to start the season off with a victory. With that in mind, here are three players to watch.
When NYCFC signed Maxi Moralez as their third designated player, most people had never heard of the 5’3″ Argentinian. He was signed from Club Leon in Liga MX, but his best stretch of play was with Atalanta in Serie A. From 2011 until 2015 he made 142 appearances, scoring 18 goals. Moralez can play as a second striker or winger, but for NYCFC he will be replacing Frank Lampard in the midfield.
In order for NYCFC to win, Moralez will have to marshal the attack forward. Even though this game will be his first in MLS, in the friendlies he has fit right in. Orlando also conceded 60 goals last year, so Moralez should have no problem breaking down their defense. In addition, he will need to gel with NYCFC’s other starters to be able to successfully play the ball out of the back. Already, in friendlies, he has showed his prowess for helping play the ball out of the back. So far, he helps the ball circulate better than Lampard.
Will Johnson almost won the MLS Cup with Toronto last season, after winning it with the Portland Timbers in 2015. Now he has moved on to OCSC in MLS’s second free agent class. Johnson has a big task ahead: shielding one of the leagues worst defenses. He also will be asked to distribute the ball and break up the opposing teams attack at the base of the diamond midfield. As NYCFC are a very lethal attacking team, his hands will be full.
Alexander Callens/Frederic Brilliant/Maxime Chanot
NYCFC’s defense conceded the most goals of any playoff team last year. Manger Patrick Vieira began to fix this problem with the signing of Maxime Chanot is the summer window. He has continued to search for the solution with the signing of Alexander Callens. Whoever starts at center back will have their hands full. Cyle Larin is one of the leagues most promising young attackers. Larin is very quick. Last season, quick players troubled the NYCFC defense, especially Sebastian Giovinco in the playoffs. If he starts, the addition of Alexander Callens should inject some athleticism into the defense.