Frank Lampard is squarely New York City FC's Godot, more of a placeholder for dysphoric existential malaise than an actual person.
Gonna have to blame Canada for this one.
Luckily, despite this enigmatic Englishman's continued absence, two new fullbacks join the fold today, providing a necessary boost to a back four that shuffles so much it may get a job offer working the tables in Atlantic City.
Angelino, age eighteen, brings plenty of attacking punch down the left, preferring to make overlapping runs and keen crosses into the box. Andoni Iraola boasts the complete package, sporting enough steel to defend one-on-one and the technical bent to spur attacking buildup down the right wing. Amid a spate of injuries and a spate of R.J. Allen, their addition may go a long way to keeping New York's newest team on its winning clip.
The Bronx Blues arrive back home winners of four out of five, as well as three on the trot away from home, tied for the longest streak in Major League Soccer this year. Toronto FC arrives with a sore lack of goal-scoring punch-- without U.S. Gold Cup mainstays Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, the side has struggled to hang with recent opponents, going scoreless in three of their last four. Last week's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of L.A. Galaxy amounts to more than enough motivation for leading MVP candidate and known Atomic Ant Sebastian Giovinco & Co., especially coupled with last month's 2-0 New York City win in the reverse fixture in Ontario.
Luke Moore, who was absent for personal reasons last week in L.A., will slide into the Altidore role this afternoon with Giovinco by his side, with midfielder Benoit Cheyrou pushing forward to the playmaker role behind them. If Shay Facey can once again patrol the edge of the box and snuff out attackers hoping to pinch inside from the wing -- and if Iraola and (perhaps) Angelino can get comfortable early and assert their will on the run of play -- the boys in blue should be good value to keep up their winning ways.
INJURED & ABSENT
New York City:
OUT: Connor Brandt (adductor strain), Javier Calle (quad strain)
QUESTIONABLE: Sebastian Velasquez (quad irritation)
PROBABLE: Jason Hernandez (calf irritation)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Mix Diskerud (USA! USA! USA!)
OUT: Steven Caldwell (achilles)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Jozy Altidore (United States), Michael Bradley (United States), Ashtone Morgan (Canada), Jonathan Osorio (Canada), Quillan Roberts (Canada)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
New York City:
RUNNIN' THE NUMBERS
- 3: New York City's current road winning streak, tied for the longest in MLS this season.
- 2,785: Miles between Yankee Stadium and L.A. Galaxy's StubHub Center, where Toronto fell last weekend 4-0.
- 3/4: After scoring in eleven of its first twelve games, Toronto has been shut out in three of its last four.
- 23: Goals allowed by each team this year. NYCFC has played eighteen league games, while TFC has logged sixteen.
- 0: Total headed goals by New York City.
- 8: Goals scored by each team in minutes 76-90 in league play.
- 25/10: Total shots/shots on target allowed by New York City in last weekend's 2-1 victory at Montreal, both team-highs.