2018 Key Transfers: New York City FC

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at New York City FC and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

New York City FC had an impressive 2017 season, finishing second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve continued to build and improve since their inception into the league. They fell short at the conference semifinal stage of the playoffs for the second year in a row last season and they will now be looking to go one better in 2018. Some key players have departed the club and while the players they have signed might not be overly familiar to the masses, they look likely to make a positive impact.

Key Signings

Saad Abdul-Slaam: NYCFC have chosen to bolster their defensive options with the signing of Saad Abdul-Salaam. The right back comes in from SKC having played second fiddle last season, making just 12 appearances. He has experience of playing, and losing, in an MLS Cup final. This will be his fourth MLS season and this looks to be a good pick-up for Patrick Vieira’s side.

Jesus Medina: A new attacking midfielder who comes in for New York City to help the squad rebuild after some big names have departed. Jesus Medina has been signed as a DP and is a versatile option as he can also play on the wing. He’s known for a quick change of pace and footwork which have given him a reputation as a creator. That is something NYCFC are going to need considering both Andrea Pirlo and Jack Harrison have departed. At 20 he’s been signed for the long-term. One to watch…

Ismael Tajouri: Another young, versatile signing for NYCFC. 23 year old Ismael Tajouri is predominately a right winger can also play as a second striker. Vieira has sung his praises, speaking of his ‘power, pace and skill’ in one-on-one situations. With his ability to play in more than one attacking role it looks to be a signing with promise, similarly to Medina, to help fill the void left by big name departures.

Notable Departures

Andrea Pirlo: There isn’t much to be said that people don’t know about Pirlo and he is going to be a huge loss for NYCFC. He made a total of 60 appearances for the club, scoring once. Pirlo will go down in the history books as a designated player who was part of the first ever NYCFC squad in their inaugural season. His experience will be extremely hard to replace but now it’s time for Vieira’s side to build for the future, while Pirlo is set to enjoy retirement after a stunning career that’s seen him do it all.

Jack Harrison: This is a departure that NYCFC fans will be disappointed about. Jack Harrison has left for partner club Manchester City and has since gone on loan to Middlesbrough in the Championship. Harrison had a very impressive 2017, scoring ten goals in 34 games and he is going to be another player who is difficult to replace.

RJ Allen: NYCFC have said goodbye to another face who has been there from the beginning of their MLS journey. RJ Allen played 53 games for the club but has been traded to Orlando, to join forces with former NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis. He made 15 appearances in 2017, but only really established himself as a regular in the 2016 season. A good move for both player and club based on that, however he is still going to be a miss.

Mikey Lopez: Another midfielder who is moving on, Mikey Lopez will take plenty from his time at NYCFC. Learning from the likes of Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo put any midfielder in good standing to build on and now at 24 the time is right for him to look to push his career forwards. He made 27 appearances during his two-year spell at the club.

Khiry Shelton: Big things were expected from Khiry Shelton back in 2015 when he was the No.2 overall pick in the SuperDraft, but he has been unlucky with injuries that have lead to his progress being a little stifled. However, he has shown form in stages to suggest the excitement around his name is justified. He moves on the SKC having scored six goals and a further ten assists in his 54 appearances in the hope of locking down a more regular role that a clean bill of health should allow him to do.

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Andres Iniesta rejects £28m-a-year offer from China with NYCFC move still on the cards

New York City FC will not have given up hope on signing Barcelona Andres Iniesta just yet, with Spanish outlet Don Balon claiming the midfielder has rejected an offer from the Chinese Super League worth £28 million per season ($35 million).

Iniesta has just over a year remaining on his current Barca contract. The club’s sporting director Robert Fernandez has claimed the World Cup winner will renew with the club he has spent his entire career at but he has yet to put pen to paper.

“He will renew at the moment he chooses,” Fernandez said. “Andres deserves the best. He grew here as a player and he’s given everything for the club. I can’t imagine a Barcelona without him and he can’t either.”

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Fernandez is right. It is tough to imagine Barcelona without Iniesta and while it looks likely he will see out his illustrious career with the Blaugrana, there is still a chance that he could be tempted to finish his playing career in MLS alongside his former club and Spanish teammate David Villa.

Rejecting a big-money offer from China suggests the eight-time La Liga champion is not solely interested in securing a big pay packet before hanging up his boots. NYCFC have reportedly offered Iniesta a ‘blank cheque’ when it comes to any possible contract negotiations but they can offer more than just money, with David Villa likely to be the deal breaker if he does indeed make the move stateside.

The 2016 MLS MVP has previously encouraged his former teammate to “share the American experience” with him in New York City, although Villa will be 36 by the time Iniesta’s contract expires at Barcelona and surely in one of his final seasons himself.

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The catch here is that the only way it seems Iniesta joins NYCFC is if Andrea Pirlo hangs his own boots up at the end of the year. The Italian maestro will turn 38 in May and only has nine months remaining on his current MLS deal – while the same applies for Villa.

It’s quite feasible to assume Pirlo will retire at the end of the year, leaving NYCFC with a free Designated Player slot as well as a healthy amount of money to spend on wages for a direct replacement. That replacement could then be Iniesta.

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Nothing is set in stone at this stage, but the Barca star will have to adapt to life under a new head coach once Luis Enrique departs this summer. He’s also only played 791 minutes in La Liga this season and is on track to play fewer league games than in any of the previous 12 seasons, proving that his role is shifting as his age becomes a factor.

The NYCFC door appears to be open, it’s just a question of if that door is more appealing than a new Barca contract for Iniesta.

Do you think we’ll ever see Iniesta playing in MLS? Or will he remain with Barcelona for the rest of his career?

Gallery: Exclusive images from New York City’s 4-0 demolition of DC United on Sunday

New York City put in a dominant display to beat DC United 4-0 in their home opener on Sunday night, with DC left searching for their first goal of the new season after firing another blank.

NYCFC were ruthlessly efficient in and around the DC penalty area, scoring from four of their five shots on target to move up to fourth in the Eastern Conference at this early stage of the season.

David Villa was instrumental in the victory, scoring twice as well as grabbing an assist for Maxi Moralez’s first MLS goal. That all came after Rodney Wallace scored the opening goal just eight minutes in, after Jack Harrison had curled an effort off the crossbar.

DC rallied in the second-half to get back into the game, firing in eight shots at Sean Johnson’s goal, but were unable to get on the board and are left waiting for their first goal of 2017. They will hope to find it when they host Columbus Crew next Saturday.

You can see exclusive images from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Ashley Marshall.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC 

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Sunday, July 24 – 13:00 ET (18:00 BST)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 7/10 – Draw 3/1  – New York City FC 7/2

Match Preview

It’s the Hudson River Derby this Sunday as New York Red Bulls host rivals New York City FC at Red Bull Arena in a huge Eastern Conference battle between two fierce rivals.

New York Red Bulls welcome City for the first time this season, with the previous two meetings both coming at Yankee Stadium. The sides are tied with a win a piece so far this term. The latest meeting ended with a 2-0 loss for the Red Bulls in a result not many would have predicted after they thrashed City 7-0 back in April.

That 2-0 defeat a month ago was also the first time NYCFC managed to overcome their local enemies so this clash couldn’t be more finely poised.

Jesse Marsch’s side come into this one struggling for form, with just one win in their last six outings. The Red Bulls are sitting third on 28 points, trailing NYCFC, who lead the Eastern Conference, by five points going into the weekend.

It is away form that is troubling New York Red Bulls as they have been on a solid run at home. They’ve won six of their last seven ties and kept a clean sheet in their last six at Red Bull Arena.

New York City FC vs New York Red Bulls

New York City FC come into this one with the bragging rights over their rivals, as previously mentioned and sitting topof the East will only boost morale. But there is plenty of work to do to if they are to take all three points here.

Patrick Vieira will be pleased with how his side responded to their 3-1 away loss to SKC as they bounced straight back to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Montreal last time out.

NYCFC had the look of a side who believed they could overcome any opponent in that win last weekend, they were under pressure for large parts of the game but defended well and countered with great precision.

The New York City players will be hoping to further avenge the pain they put their fans through in that 7-0 loss at Yankee Stadium with a win in their rivals backyard this time around.

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact

Team News

New York Red Bulls have just two injury concerns heading into the derby as Kemar Lawrence and Gideon Baah both remain out.

New York City have a bit of an injury crisis on their hands at the moment, as they could be without as many as six for this one. Connor Brandt, Steven Mendoza, Shannon Gomez, Ronald Matarrita and Khiry Shelton all look set to miss out, while Andoni Iraola has been training after suffering his ankle injury last weekend but remains a doubt.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ last five: D/L/D/W/D

New York City FC’s last five: W/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: Home form – New York Red Bulls have won six of their last seven home games in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The Red Bulls midfielder has a huge role for the derby. He will be tasked with keeping the inform NYCFC midfielders quiet. If he can stop the likes of Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo bossing the game his side have a great chance of winning this tie. Possibly an even more important task for the Red Bulls midfielder will be to keep service to the City stars to a minimum.

MLS: New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo Sacha Kljestan

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-2 New York City FC – This has the makings of a classic tie. Both sides are in form in one way or another. With Red Bulls looking solid at home and with City winning six of their last seven outings it’s difficult to see either side losing. RBNY know they have to win this tie to close the gap on their neighbours, while a draw for NYCFC will see them remain top of the East beyond this weekend. Score draw.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Montreal Impact vs. New York City FC

Stadium: Stade Saputo – Sunday, July 17 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)

Match Odds: Montreal 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – NYCFC 12/5

Match Preview

Montreal Impact welcome the Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC to Stade Saputo on Sunday evening.

Montreal are fourth in the East. They trail NYCFC by six points ahead of this tie but they do have two games in hand on their opponents.

Mauro Biello’s side come into this one off the back of their 1-1 draw with Portland. They have become the draw specialists in recent weeks with eight of their last 11 games ending with a share of the points.

Impact are unbeaten in five but they have won just one of those ties. They have scored at least twice in 13 of their last 15 at home but have also conceded at last two in five of those last six games. If that is anything to go by we could be in for a high-scoring match here.

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New York City’s four-game winning run came to an end last time out as they lost 3-1 to SKC. A disappointing result for Patrick Vieira’s side but they are still the team to be feared in the East.

NYCFC have plenty of players in top form ahead of this tie, they will be looking for their key players to perform and ensure they bounce back straight away from their defeat.

While New York City fans have every right to brag about being top of the East there is plenty of work to do to ensure they make the playoffs for the first time in their history.

The earlier meeting in the season between these two ended in a 1-1 draw, with Montreal stealing a share of the points in dramatic fashion late on in the tie. Vieira will have his players all too aware of the threat Montreal pose and will not expect them to throw away three points if they get into a winning position again.

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Team News

Montreal could be without four players through injury as Andres Romero and Marco Donadel are expected to be out, while Didier Drogba and Laurent Ciman are both doubts.

New York City FC have just the two injury concerns as Connor Brandt and Steven Mendoza are out.

Key Points

Montreal Impact’s form: D/D/W/D/D

New York City FC’s form: W/W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Montreal are unbeaten in 14 of their last 15 home games in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Frank Lampard – The midfield goal machine is finally living up to his reputation. The NYCFC man has netted four in his last five. He can be key to his side taking all three points in this tie.

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Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-2 New York City FC – If recent form and results are anything to go by we should be in for an action packed draw here. Both of these sides have been scoring freely and Montreal’s home form suggests it is going to be very difficult for New York City FC to take all three points.

2016 MLS Season Preview: New York City

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what New York City will be looking to achieve this year…

Despite 2015 being New York City’s inaugural season in MLS, they will still be disappointed with their final position, given the quality of players they had in their squad. So much so, it cost head coach Jason Kreis his job and he was replaced by Patrick Vieira in November. Building a successful team isn’t something that happens overnight and NYCFC fans will have to continue to be patient, but they will be hoping that after a year-long bonding session, the players will be able to repay them with a more productive and memorable 2016 campaign.

Last season’s finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 8th – P34 – W10 – D7 – L17

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What needs to change this year?

There are numerous areas that require significant improvement for New York City going into 2016. Before the season, it seemed they were a little top heavy, and so it proved. They didn’t struggle to score goals and finished as the sixth highest scorers in MLS. However, defensively, it simply wasn’t good enough. They conceded 58 goals, giving them the worst defensive record in MLS alongside Toronto and Chicago Fire, so they need to drastically improve at the back. They also need to concentrate for the full 90 minutes, as letting in late goals was definitely their Achilles heel. They conceded 11 goals in the last ten minutes of games, six of which cost them either victory or a draw. In total, those late goals cost them eight points. Another blindingly obvious area for improvement is the amount of losses. They suffered 17 defeats and only Chicago Fire lost more games than them. Of those 17 losses, 11 of them were by just a single goal, so if they can turn tight defeats into draws, they’d certainly be in a better position.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Ethan White – Defender, Ronald Matarrita – Defender, Diego Martinez – Defender, Frederic Brillant – Defender, Jack Harrison – Midfielder, Mikey Lopez – Midfielder, Federico Bravo – Midfielder

Outs: Chris Wingert – Defender, Kwame Watson-Siriboe – Defender, Jeb Brovsky – Defender, Pablo Alvarez – Midfielder, Shay Facey – Defender, Javier Calle – Midfielder, Sebastian Velasquez – Midfielder, Ned Grabavoy – Midfielder

Key Player:

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David Villa – Forward – The ex-Spain international led by example last season. An impressive return of 18 goals and eight assists from 30 appearances showed that he’s still got what it takes. New York City will need him to be firing on all cylinders once again in 2016 if they’re to make the playoffs. He was the fourth highest goalscorer in MLS last season and he’s sure to have one eye on a Golden Boot award this time around. With the support of world-class midfielders Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo from the beginning of the season, he could be even more lethal.

One to Watch:

Jack Harrison – Midfielder – The young Englishman was once part of Manchester United’s youth academy. He was a number one pick by Chicago Fire in this year’s MLS SuperDraft before being traded to New York City for general allocation money, who were clearly keen to land the promising 19 year old. He was just 14 when he took a leap of faith to join Berkshire School in Massachusetts. He’s impressed during his five years in the USA with spells at Manhattan Soccer Club and Wake Forest University, which eventually led to him being selected as number one pick at the draft. He will be desperate to get a chance to show what he can do in 2016.

Photo: NYCFC.com

Photo: NYCFC.com

Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 6th – New York City will be desperate to make a push for the playoffs this year and there’s more than enough potential in the squad to make a case for why they may just do so. There’s been an overhaul of defensive players as they attempt to put right all that went wrong for them last year. Chris Wingert, Shay Facey, Jeb Brovsky, Javier Calle and Kwame Watson-Siriboe are all defensive players that featured regularly for New York in 2015 and they have all departed. Coming in to help stabilise the back line, they have Ethan White from Philadelphia Union and Frederic Brillant from Oostende, as well as young full back’s Diego Martinez and Ronald Matarrita. If the defensive unit can click, then New York City could be a different animal in 2016.

What are you expecting from New York City in 2016?

NYCFC’s Andrea Pirlo has ‘agreed to join Manchester City’ in January – report

New York City FC midfielder Andrea Pirlo is looking likely to leave the MLS outfit on a short-term loan deal in order to join parent club Manchester City in January, according to a report out of Italy.

Pirlo, who’s been linked with a loan move back to Serie A since ending the regular season with NYCFC, will instead be heading to the Premier League to join up with Manchester City, according to Sky Italia reporter Fabio Caressa.

The move would certainly anger New York City fans, as well as MLS followers in general, especially after the debacle that involved Frank Lampard and the Premier League side last season.

Pirlo has reiterated that he has no plans to move anywhere on loan and would instead be training to be fully ready for the start of the 2016 MLS season with NYCFC.

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Though that might not be the case as Manchester City look set to demonstrate their power once more by controlling the fate of NYCFC players from across the pond.

The Citizens will want to have the strongest squad possible as they look to win the Premier League title once more. They might see the short-term addition of Pirlo as a key one at the midpoint of the campaign.

Pirlo failed to score a goal in 13 MLS appearances after moving to New York from Juventus in the summer but did register two assists.

Should Manchester City bring in Andrea Pirlo on loan in January? How important is he to NYCFC?

Inter Milan ‘desperate’ to bring in Andrea Pirlo on loan from NYCFC

Inter Milan are looking to bring Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo back to Serie A just six months after leaving to join New York City FC in MLS, according to reports out of Italy.

Sport Mediaset claim Inter boss Roberto Mancini is desperate to bring Pirlo in on loan from January through to the start of the new MLS season in March.

Pirlo, who joined Inter as a 19-year-old in 1998, has said he is not looking for a loan move to fill his time during the MLS offseason as he would rather focus on his NYCFC commitments ahead of his first full season.

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“No, I do not think I will go to Europe, it would not be fair to my team,” he recently told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“All I’m thinking about is training this offseason for the 2016 campaign at New York.”

Inter Milan would not be the first Serie A side to look to MLS as a way of strengthening during the winter. Fierce rivals AC Milan twice loaned David Beckham from LA Galaxy in 2008 and 2009.

Pirlo joined New York City in July and went on to make 13 MLS appearances towards the end of the regular season. He will be disappointed not to have scored a goal but will look to improve in 2016 as the expansion franchise look to bounce back after not making the playoffs at the first attempt.

Should Andrea Pirlo consider a loan move to Inter Milan? How important will he be to NYCFC next season?

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC

Venue: StubHub Center – Sunday, August 23 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST – Live on Sky Sports 1) 

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 4/9 – Draw 18/5 – New York City 11/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy host New York City FC on Sunday in a standout MLS fixture. This will be the first time these franchise’s have ever faced each other and the potential reunion of the Frank Lampard vs Steven Gerrard midfield battle makes this game the most highly anticipated of Week 25.

LA Galaxy come into this game top of the Western Conference and in fine form after winning their last three matches, scoring eight goals in the process.

The Galaxy have managed to score 22 times in their last five home games – that is an average of 4.4 goals in each MLS game at StubHub Center, which is incredible. The reigning MLS Cup holders have only lost one of their 13 home matches this season which just goes to show how tough it is going to be for NYCFC to take all three points away from StubHub on Sunday.

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New York City come into this game on a two-game unbeaten streak as they beat Eastern Conference leaders DC United before drawing 2-2 against Columbus on Wednesday night.

With NYCFC currently sat in seventh position in the Eastern Conference, they will be looking to be only the fourth side to take points away from the StubHub Center this season to boost their playoff chances with the end of the regular season just around the corner.

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On average New York City conceed 1.25 goals in every away game and with the attacking dominance that the Galaxy have shown at home this season, NYCFC will most certainly have to shore things up at the back to stand any chance of success in this one.

English fans will be hoping to see Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard face off against each other in midfield once more, but Lampard’s fitness concerns mean that it’s not guaranteed.

Team News

LA Galaxy are still without goalkeeper Brian Perk for the remainder of the season. Jose Villarreal, Baggio Husidic and Todd Dunivant all missed the win over FC Dallas and are doubts for the NYCFC game. Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane and Giovani Dos Santos will all start, while Gyasi Zardes is expected to despite transfer rumours linking with a move to Europe.

New York City FC remain without long-term absentees George John, Tony Taylor and Connor Brandt. Javier Calle is out with a hamstring injury. Khiry Shelton is questionable, while Ned Grabavoy and Chris Wingert are doubtful after missing the win over DC United. Frank Lampard is facing a race against time to be ready as he continues to battle a thigh injury.

Key Points

La Galaxy’s form: W/W/W/W/W

New York City’s form: W/L/L/W/D

Key Stat: LA Galaxy have scored an average of 2.3 goals per home game this season. Attack.

Key Player: Robbie Keane – The Irishman has been in fine form this season, scoring 13 goals, 10 of which have come at home. He could prove to be the difference this weekend and it’s tough not to see him continuing his fine scoring form at home this Sunday against a leaky NYCFC defence. With his incredible movement and keen eye for goal, we can see him causing New York City’s defence huge problems.

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Score Prediction

La Galaxy 3-2 New York City – This looks like a game that promises plenty of goals due to the creativity that both sides have in their midfield through the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo. These veterans should create chances throughout the game and with both sides boasting clinical strikers in Robbie Keane and David Villa, we can see this game being an end-to-end affair with lots of goals. The Galaxy haven’t managed a clean sheet in their last five encounters, which means this game could be closer than what many may think, though the home side should still edge it.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC 

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Sunday, August 9 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 4/6 – Draw 14/5 – New York City FC 4/1

Match Preview

The third and final New York derby of the season takes place on Sunday night at Red Bull Arena. New York City FC visit the New York Red Bulls in hope of ending the Red Bulls’ early dominance in this rivalry.

With two wins from two in the derby, the Red Bulls are comfortably in possession of the bragging rights after a 2-1 home win was followed up by a 3-1 comeback at Yankee Stadium in June.

And being eight points behind DC United in the Eastern Conference, they will want to take a third win as they hunt down the Eastern Conference title with just two months to go in the regular season.

New York Red Bulls’ record in MLS: P21 – W9 – D6 – L6

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New York City FC are searching for the three points for another reason, as they chase a playoff berth in their inaugural season.

This is a huge match for the newly formed franchise as losing all three derbies this season would be devastating, but with stars such as Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard in the team now, NYCFC have assets that can win games. And lest we forget arguably the most lethal out-and-out striker in MLS right now, David Villa.

New York City FC’s record in MLS: P22 – W6 – D6 – L10

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It is sure to be another fiery encounter and it could well be the best game in MLS this weekend between two rivals desperate for the win.

 

Team News

New York Red Bulls will be without Chris Duvall and Ronald Zubar through injury. Damien Perrinelle is suspended.

New York City FC are missing George John, Tony Taylor and Connor Brandt through injury. Chris Wingert, Khiry Shelton and Ryan Meara are all doubts. Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa should all start together.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ last five: L/W/W/W/D

New York City FC’s last five: W/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: David Villa has a sensational ten goals in his last eight MLS appearances. 

Key Player: David Villa – World Cup winner Villa has hit form at the right time and he can’t stop scoring at the moment. Expect him to be a real threat on Sunday night.

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Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 1-2 New York City FC – NYCFC could edge this one against their local rivals, especially when considering the form of David Villa in front of goal. If NYCFC do win it, it will be close but this should be a great one.