The MLS regular season starts in a week.
If you've got ducks, it's time to get them in a row.
Tonight, the NYCFC boys play their sixth and final friendly, putting an end to their month-long preseason camp in Florida. With the opening day roster nearly set, tonight will be all about two things: playing with consistency and avoiding injuries.
The opponent is Icelandic this time. Let's all say their name together, everyone:
Ain't nobody got time for any of that. So, understandably, the capital city team is known outside of Iceland as KR.
These guys might be a mouthful, but they aren't a slouch. Last year, they finished third in league play, and had the second-fewest goals allowed among the twelve top-flight teams. That was good enough to break into the qualifying rounds of the current UEFA Europa League tournament, where they made it to the second stage before suffering an absolute thrashing at the hands of Norwegian side Rosenborg.
With that in mind, let's identify a couple of things we want and need to see tonight.
- THE WIDOWMAKER: Khiry "K19" Shelton, along with Tony Taylor, appears to have favored nation status on the wing in Patrick Vieira's 4-3-3. While Taylor is a precise dribbler and very much a man with a plan, Shelton tends to rely on his sheer athleticism to get around opponents in isolation. If we see more of the Shelton that we witnessed on February 20th against HB Koge -- the Shelton that lobbed a pretty ball for David Villa that the captain fielded in stride and earned a late penalty -- the front three will have a real chance to bring the pain.
- THE FREDDY B'S: New York City added a couple Freddy B's in the winter transfer window, and both will be relied upon for significant contributions this year. Frederic Brillant has been poised in central defense, and will be expected play the anchor role when the good guys switch to three at the back. Federico Bravo plugs in right in front of the defensive group, and hopefully represents the number-six midfielder that NYCFC never had in 2015. The Freddy B's need to play tough tonight without sacrificing discipline and positioning.
- THE 3-2-2-3 LIFESTYLE: This unorthodox formation we've seen in the later stages of a handful of friendlies continues to be a significant subplot. We've seen the 3-2-2-3 shape with either three center backs or two center backs and a fullback. Right in front of them, Vieira has insisted on a sweeper/stopper midfielder alongside a tough box-to-box type who can bring the ball up from the back. The formation is basically like the 4-3-3's crazy yet bizarrely likable uncle. With Bravo and Andrew "The 4 Train" Jacobson both able to fill the stopper role, Vieira will have options if a conventional three-man midfield -- say, Tommy McNamara, Andrea Pirlo, and Mix Diskerud -- isn't taking care of business.
Oh, and NO INJURIES PLZ SRSLY NO INJURIES.