Preview – 119 days after NYCFC’s heartbreaking 1-0 loss vs. Tigres, the Pigeons are set to be back in action via the MLS is Back Tournament.
NYCFC MiB Preview: Can City make a run?
While the tournament as a whole looks to be up in the air, from positive COVID tests to star players being absent, NYCFC will be desperate to get back on the pitch.
Their start to their 2020 campaign may be a big reason why.
A poor run of form:
In all competitions, NYCFC has a record of two wins and three losses. This includes an 0-2 start to the MLS campaign and a dramatic 1-0 vs. Tigres in the Concacaf Champions League.
While run of form shouldn’t mean much given the length of time from those matches, first-year MLS manager Ronny Delia will be itching to get a chip off his shoulder in this tournament.
Barring them being absent or being positive for COVID, there is a strong chance NYCFC fans will get their first look at their new signings from the winter. Among these new arrivals are Gedion Zelalem, Nicolás Acevedo, and Gudmundor Thórarinsson.
Zelalem signed on a free transfer from Sporting KC. While the former Arsenal product didn’t provide enough of an impact for KC to keep him, Zelalem brings depth at a position that will be key for the blues success.
Acevedo signed from Liverpool (Uruguay) for a fee of $2.53 million. The 20-year-old brings more potential to a young midfield core. With his creativity and knack for getting by defenders, he brings an enticing counter to the defensive play from Parks and Sands.
Thórarinsson signed from IFK Norrköping for a free transfer. A like for like replacement for Ben Sweat, Thórarinsson brings a defensive mindset to NYCFC’s backline.
The schedule is not an unfamiliar one for NYCFC, who take on the Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, and Orlando City for their group stage matches.
While they aren’t taking on inexperienced clubs like Nashville SC and Inter Miami in their group stage, City has proved to be exceptional in the past vs. their opponents.
New York City has a combined record of 18-10-10 vs. their three opponents heading to group stage play. A consistent record in such an unfamiliar tournament.
Given how NYCFC started in 2020, I am very cautious about how high their ceiling should be. That said, I’ve always believed that depth off the bench is key to the success of a tournament-style format.
Add with it the fact that they retain the star-studded attack that carried them last season, and you could say the ingredients are there to make a deep run in this tournament.
I’ve got them finishing 2nd in Group A, behind a very underrated Philadelphia Union squad. Followed by at least one knockout stage victory before faulting in the quarterfinals.