This is it. Tonight's game is the last game New York City will have before their inaugural season begins at Orlando next Sunday evening.
At least, that's what's supposed to happen. Truth is, the chasm between the league's position and that of the MLS players' union is at least as wide as the Grand Canyon. There's a very real probability that the MLS season - and the showcase debut of both New York City and Orlando City - doesn't happen on time.
Spoke with a league source who said MLS has asked clubs to identify 4-to-5 potential make-up dates on their calendar should a strike occur.— Chris Kamrani (@chriskamrani) February 27, 2015
None of what we've seen or heard should fill fans with confidence. That said, we'll leave that aside for the moment, and look to tonight.
Given that tonight is the last preseason game, we should expect to see a lineup composed of mostly starters. Between Wednesday's game against Houston Dynamo - a drab, lifeless, damp 2-0 loss that could easily have been 3-0 or 4-0 - and tonight, New York City has nearly filled out its roster. Under the old collective bargaining agreement, which MLS clubs are still using, each club can have 30 players on their roster. This is how it looks like now:
- GOALKEEPER: Josh Saunders, Akira Fitzgerald, Ryan Meara
- DEFENDER: Jeb Brovsky, Josh Williams, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, George John, Jason Hernandez, Andrés Mendoza, Chris Wingert, and Shay Facey
- MIDFIELDER: Connor Brandt, Mehdi Ballouchy, Mix, Javier Calle, Matthew Dunn, Thomas McNamara, Andrew Jacobson, Pablo Alvarez, Kwadwo Poku, and Sebastian Velasquez
- FORWARD: David Villa, Tony Taylor, Khiry Shelton, Patrick Mullins, Adam Nemec
That makes 28. That said, the rumored loan signing of Shay Facey and the signing of David Villa friend Pablo Alvarez haven't been made official; the club also took goalkeepers Andre Rawls (whom we haven't seen play at all) and Eirik Johansen to Charleston, but I can't imagine that they'll keep either or both.
Based on that, here's how I see New York City lining up tonight.
NEW YORK CITY STARTING LINEUP (DIAMOND 4-4-2)
HOW TO WATCH
Right here, in glorious Youtube livestream glory, at 7:30 PM ET sharp. Literally: you can watch the game below. If you're in New York City, you can join supporters' group The Third Rail at Nevada Smith's, at 12th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan.
We'll be live-tweeting the match at @hudsonriverblue. For those of you watching here, I'll be monitoring the comments. Here are the rules:
- Absolutely no links to illegal streams. They're bad and they get us in trouble. This shouldn't be an issue today, but let's be cognizant of that going forward.
- We have rules against "relentless negativity." Nobody likes a Negative Nancy, even when we're losing to a scrub team. Don't knee-jerk and post outlandish or hurtful things just because you're frustrated.
- Along those lines, outright abuse of players or match officials is verboten. It's fine to say "wow, that's a bad call, match official," but it's NOT okay to direct copious amounts of abuse in the direction of said official over a call you did not like.
- Treat other people in the match thread the way you would want someone else to treat your grandmother. Be nice. Observe Wheaton's Law. This is a community of fans, not an un-moderated message board.
Have fun. I believe that New York City will win their first trophy tonight.