By Tyler Trent
NYCFC pose for their team photo for the match (Photo courtesy of NYCFC)
What We Have Seen So Far
Charlotte FC will welcome New York City FC to town this weekend. Currently, NYCFC sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, tied with fourth place Nashville SC on 15 points. NYCFC was riding a four-game unbeaten streak before losing to Toronto FC on Saturday.
NYCFC was hit was some pretty significant losses in the off-season, losing players like Sean Johnson, Anton Tinnerholm, Alexander Callens, Thiago Andrade, and Maxi Moralez. However, the return of James Sands from Rangers FC and the permanent acquisition of Santiago Rodríguez has boosted the squad’s morale. In addition, PSV’s Richy Ledezma has also made a significant impact in midfield this season.
New outside backs Mitja Ilenič and Brian Cufré haven’t hit the ground running for NYCFC. Still, the veteran presence of Maxime Chanot and Thiago Martins at center-back has made the NCYFC defense respectable.
Player’s to Watch
James Sands – Sands has the already strong NYCFC midfield clicking. With a 90.3% pass accuracy, he will look to dictate the flow of the game. Charlotte could be in for a long night if they lose the midfield battle and allow Sands to take control.
Talles Magno – Although Talles Magno hasn’t had a fantastic season, he still has an impressive three goals through ten matches. He will likely look to take advantage of Charlotte’s right back throughout the night and make use of transition moments when the right back is out of position and the ball is turned over.
Gabriel Pereira – Gabriel Pereira missed NYCFC’s last match against Toronto through a lower-body injury. However, if he can start this weekend, Charlotte will have to keep track of the young Brazilian. Gabriel Pereira is arguably NYCFC’s most important player and has two goals and three assists on the season. With Harrison Afful likely to start at left-back, he will have his hands full defending through the night.
New York City’s Starting XI
New York City’s strongest and preferred lineup can be found below.
NYCFC’s starting lineup against FC Dallas (Graphic from MLSsoccer.com)
Ilenič will look to push up the pitch and assist an already formidable Pereira in the attack. Sands will cover his defensive line while providing a progressive passing outlet forward to the attack.
NYCFC's passing network from its match against FC Dallas (Graphic from MLSsoccer.com)
NYCFC's zones of control* for the 2023 season (Graphic from theanalyst.com)
As previously mentioned, Magno will look to get a lot of touches on the left side of the pitch. Therefore, negating his influence will be a crucial point for Lattanzio’s team Saturday.
Outlook for 2023
New York City FC may have had multiple key departures in the off-season, but they continue to maintain their position as a tough team in the Eastern Conference. If the same Charlotte FC shows up from the DC United match, they will likely get run off the pitch. However, if Charlotte can control the midfield and limit transitional moments from New York's wingers, they will have a shot at earning some points.
*For the zones of control, blue symbolizes areas on the field where New York City FC has had at least 55% of total touches. Red represents areas where their opponents have had at least 55% of total touches.