On Friday, September 22, NYCFC will take on the Chicago Fire at 8pm EST at Yankee Stadium. This will be the third match up of the year. NYCFC previously defeated the Fire 4-3, and drew 0-0. This match also has tremendous playoff implications, as NYCFC can clinch a playoff berth in a variety of situations.
Players to watch
Last week, Khiry Shelton once again came onto the bench as an impact sub and made a tremendous difference. He scored one goal and was a big problem for the FC Dallas back four. However, he has yet to shake the super sub label. While being a super sub is great, if he wants to elevate his career he needs to be starting. One opportunity to start could be against a weak Fire team. Frank Lampard will not be playing, so Jack Harrison could shift to the No. 10 and Shelton could take Harrison’s place at right wing.
Mix Diskerud hinted this week he might be back in the matchday 18. Regardless of the meaning behind this tweet, he has a tremendous opportunity ahead of him with Lampard out for the next 3-4 weeks, he needs to seize the opportunity. Whether as a starter or just an impact sub, showing he can make a difference in game could really go a long way towards playing down the stretch. If he can demonstrate his ability to be a valuable member of the squad, NYCFC will have a very deep squad down the stretch.
Matt Polster was recently named #20 on MLS’s 24 under 24 list. Since he was drafted by the fire, he has made 30 appearances in the midfield. If they want to shut down the dangerous NYCFC offense, Polster will have to dominate the midfield. By stymieing the NYCFC midfield, he can prevent their service to the front three. Without that link, the NYCFC offense will most likely be rendered ineffective.
When NYCFC are attacking
NYCFC need to figure out how they will fill in the gap left by Frank Lampard. Whether Mix Diskerud, Jack Harrison, or someone else, whoever is filling in at the No. 10 needs to bridge the gap between the midfield and the forwards. Even if they cannot score the same number of goals, they just need to help shuttle the ball.
When the Fire are defending
David Accam has recently returned to the Fire, and their offense has improved tremendously. Accam is one of the most dangerous attackers in the league with the ball at his feet. If the fire can unleash him, NYCFC will have a lot of trouble keeping the ball out of the net with their leaky defense. Look for the Fire to play long balls over the top so Accam can try and beat the NYCFC defense with his pace.