Already facing key injuries and a tough run of form, New York City FC will return to the pitch this evening without perhaps their top performer.
On Thursday, Major League Soccer's Disciplinary Committee handed netminder Josh Saunders a one-match ban and an undisclosed fine for a studs-up challenge against Portland's Ishmael Yartey.
The foul came in the 69th minute of Saturday's 1-0 home defeat, and was judged to have endangered the safety of the opponent:
Center back Jason Hernandez had already been ruled out of tonight's game, while fullback Josh Williams and star man David Villa remain in doubt due to lingering injuries.
Ryan Meara, a New York Red Bulls loanee, has the inside track to start in goal over Akira Fitzgerald. The Yonkers-born, Bronx-educated Meara has been the backup goalkeeper on Jason Kreis's team sheet since returning from injury during the first month of the season.
Replacing Saunders means replacing the most consistent performer on the New York City squad. He has allowed six goals in seven games, with two of those six coming off deflections. Additionally, he has already received multiple nominations for MLS Save of the Week this season. Jason Kreis has readily acknowledged that Saunders has "saved our skins" on a number of occasions.
Will Meara be the man to save his team tonight against the Fire?