What the MLS is Back Tournament draw means for New York City FC

New York City FC
Harrison, NJ — March 11: Sean Johnson #1 of New York City FC celebrates in the first half against the UANL Tigres during Leg 1 of the quarterfinals during the CONCACAF Champions League match at Red Bull Arena on March 11, 2020 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images).

Editorial — The MLS is back!

For the first time since the second week of MLS action, MLS and New York City FC fans had something to look forward to on Thursday. The MLS is Back Tournament group stage draw occurred and it did not disappoint.

Twenty-six MLS clubs will be vying for 16 knockout stage spots. Here is the outlook on NYCFC’s group stage chances.

Six teams for (as little as) two spots

Per the rules of the tournament, the top two teams in each group move on to the knockout stage. Four wildcard spots will also go out to the four best third-place teams based on points.

To even out both conferences, new MLS side Nashville SC will switch to the Eastern Conference for the tournament, creating 14 Western Conference clubs. Meanwhile, only 12 of those clubs are truly in the west.

The caveat to this would mean the East would have one group consisting of six teams rather than the typical four.

One of the six teams in the unfortunate group was NYCFC. The club joined the Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Orlando City SC and expansion sides Nashville and Inter Miami.

 

A stacked fixture list

In a circumstance unforeseen in tournament play, Group A will still only play three matches even with six teams in the group. With this setup, one club will have the unlucky draw of playing experienced MLS sides like Philadelphia and Chicago, while not being able to have a go versus the expansion clubs.

By a victim of circumstance, NYCFC was the unlucky club.

 

A concerning run of form

While the last NYCFC match took place three months ago, it’s important to consider the poor run of form that the boys in blue left off.

Following a fantastic start in the Concacaf champions league, NYCFC dropped its first two MLS matches, then suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss against. Tigres in the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals.

Seeing European clubs like Schalke continue their run of form from the break, leaving their season on poor form may be a worry for the club.

Early Prediction

NYCFC has a fairly easy start to the tournament against Orlando. Then, the boys in blue will take on two MLS staples in Philadelphia and Chicago.

It appears that the second match against Philadelphia will determine who finishes on top in the group. While starting off the season poorly as well, it becomes clear that NYCFC and Philadelphia are the two standouts in this group.

I’m expecting Philadelphia to come out on top with the easier schedule. Meanwhile, NYCFC can fit right behind in second while Inter Miami picks up a wildcard spot in third place.

 

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