It’s the sixth day, and New York FC play Real Salt Lake at Yankee Stadium at 1 p.m. ET. As good a way to spend Easter Sunday as any.
NYCFC is coming off a scintillating but ultimately disappointing 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders in the CONCACAF Champions League. Don’t let the score fool you: New York outscored Seattle and played their best football of the year in the second half. NYCFCF faithful would like more of this, please.
Now that interconference play is back in MLS, we find ourselves pulling dusty old binders from the shelves of the Hudson River Blue archives to search for information on teams that NYCFC rarely plays, like Real Salt Lake. It turns out that RSL have the best win rate against NYCFC in MLS: the two clubs have met five times in total, and Real have won four of those games, including the most recent game, a 3-1 bombardment in Salt Lake City on August 3, 2019.
That was another story when Salt Lake City last played at Yankee Stadium on April 11, 2018: NYCFC won 4-0 behind a top-of-the-box from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, a penalty from Maxi Moralez (!), a fine carry from Jo Inge Berget (!!), and the first club goal scored by Ebenezer Ofori.
Game: Real Salt Lake host NYCFC
Date and time: Sunday, April 17, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Yankee Stadium
Flow: APP YES
Listen: The game will be streamed in English and Spanish on NYCFC Radio
• Injury report: Maxi Moralez and Maxime Chanot are questionable—Moralez suffered a rib injury sustained while training in Seattle, and Chanot is out with an eye injury sustained while on international duty with the Luxembourg national team. Defender Anton Tinnerholm is out due to an Achilles tendon injury he suffered last October. The rest of the team is available.
• The thermometer outside Billy’s Sports Bar will show a net temperature of 46˚F/8˚C at kick-off.
• NYCFC are yet to find their scoring rhythm, but if they play like they did in Wednesday’s game against Seattle, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Taty Castellanos score his first goal of the MLS season , and Talles Magno on the scoreboard. The team was at its most dangerous when right-winger Gabriel Pereira was substituted after half-time.
• After enduring one of the wildest travel schedules in MLS history, New York City are set to begin their most comfortable streak of games this season: Five consecutive home games on regular rest, all played at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.
• Real Salt Lake have three wins and three draws after seven games, which is good enough for sixth place in the Western Conference, but their recent form has been shaky: a 1-0 loss at home to Sporting Kansas City, a 1-1 draw away to Colorado Rapids and a 2-2 draw at home with Toronto FC.
• This is a transition year for RSL. The club lost Designated Player Albert Rusnák to Seattle (remember him?), but added striker Sergio Cordova on loan from FC Augsburg. The 24-year-old Venezuela international has scored one goal for Real so far – expect to see him charging through the middle in Alexander Callens and Thiago Martins.
• But really, the biggest move of the off-season was ownership: the club was sold to David Blitzer and Ryan Smith in January, ‘ending a 15-month ownership saga’ that began when the former Dell owner Loy Hansen was evicted in August 2020, after a pattern of racist and abusive behavior was made public. Smith is also the majority owner of the Utah Jazz.
• RSL still have Bobby Wood, 29: the former USA international has scored twice for Salt Lake this year. This ties him to 24-year-old Tate Schmitt for the team leader position.
• Injuries have weakened Salt Lake City’s defense and attack: the team will be without centre-back Johan Kappelhof, centre-back Erik Holt, defender Zack Farnsworth, defender Bret Halsey and star winger Jonathan Menendez . Starting centre-back Justen Glad and defender Jasper Loffelsend are questionable.
• Salt Lake City could having MLS supervillain David Ochoa in goal now that he’s off the injured list. A master of dark arts and football, Ochoa was quoted by Real Soap Box as saying, “I really want to get inside the head of the opposing team. When I take my time on goal shots and waste time, it’s to get into their head and not let them get into a rhythm. And when I silence the fans, it’s also to thrill the crowd. I like when they talk right behind me, I think it makes me play better.
• Bettors choose NYCFC to win. As soon as this article is published, they type Taty Castellanos as the most likely to score, closely followed by Heber and Magno Tillers.
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