I can hear it in your voice-- the telltale tremble which suggests equal parts skittishness and an eminent lack of confidence. But I'm here to put things in perspective.
At least New York City ain't the Philadelphia Eagles.
It's not sunny in Chipadelphia. No, sir. But there's still the slightest sunbeam slicing through the mounting inclemencies here in New York City! The Bronx Blues are still in the playoff hunt in the East, though their grasp packs all of the tensile strength of a dehydrated lemur, or perhaps Sam Bradford.
With playoff rivals Montreal seizing a crucial win Wednesday night, those playoff hopes faded even further. And looking at Saturday night's opponent, the New York City faithful find themselves staring down a damn avalanche.
The Vancouver Whitecaps, perched atop the Western Conference standings with their gaze dead-set on the 2015 Supporters' Shield, rightly strike abject fear in the hearts of NYCFC-ers far and wide, and why not? They boast three of the best young attacking talents in the league in Octavio Rivero (10 goals), Kekuta Manneh (6 goals, 5 assists), and Cristian Techera (6 goals in just over 1200 minutes). They've surrendered just 11 league goals at home on the year. They sport the indomitable David Ousted in front of the net, who led MLS in clean sheets in 2014 and was an obvious pick for the All-Star Team this year.
But this match preview is all about hope. Even the irrational kind! Hey, maybe it's because Pope Francisco -- Super Frank -- is visiting our fair city. Maybe it's because I've been slamming espresso since the early morning hours. Whatever it is, some mystical, immaterial force is telling me not to write off NYCFC just yet.
Why? Let's drop a stat bomb:
- The Caps have lost three of their last five league matches, and four of seven in all competitions.
- They've been shut out in two of their last three MLS games, 3-0 to Seattle and 2-0 at Houston.
- CONCACAF Champions League play is stretching Vancouver quite thin: the Caps fell 3-0 to the Sounders in CCL just four days after dropping that exact same result in league play.
(I mean, hell, Aaron Rodgers doesn't have a giant painting of himself hanging in his house.)
- New York City has scored 44 goals in 30 games, while the Whitecaps have accounted for just 40 in 29 games.
- On the road, the Bronx Blues have lost their last five matches in a row.
- NYCFC sports a highly favorable record against Canadian teams: two wins and a draw against Toronto, plus two wins and one loss against Montreal.
- Two New York City players previously donned the Whitecaps shirt: Jeb Brovsky (24 appearances in 2011) and Mehdi Ballouchy (7 apps in 2014).
YOUR PARTING SHOT,
Courtesy of an immortal American: