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PREVIEW: New York City at Sporting Kansas City, 8 p.m

The Pigeons try to make it five wins in a row on national TV

Bernie Minoso, Hudson River Blue

New York City takes their club-record four game winning streak to Children Mercy Park and tries to make it five games on the spin against Peter Vermes’ club tonight before a national television audience. It’s the club’s third game in eight days, so you wouldn’t fault manager Patrick Vieira for settling just fine with a point, and stretching the club’s lead atop the Eastern Conference to five points.

But a victory, which would stretch that lead to seven points, might even be more satisfying. On Wednesday, Vermes brashly stated that Vieira’s predecessor in New York City, Jason Kreis, would’ve improved the squad just as Vieira has. Left unmentioned by Vermes is that Vieira’s turned out to be a pretty fine manager on his own. He’s adapted to changing circumstances, all without losing grasp of his basic strategic and tactical setup.

Unlike Kreis, he was able to negotiate a dismal early run of results into latter success. Maybe that translates into a playoff appearance; maybe not. There’s still a lot of games left to go. Der Ball ist rund und das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten and all that.

But this New York City team is a better New York City than Kreis’ teams ever were. I’ll admit to being massively frustrated with them when they underperform. I get frustrated because they’re clearly capable of a much higher ceiling, and so our expectations should consequently be adjusted.

You’d be nuts to think that Vermes’ comments didn’t rankle Vieira. Yes, he may be a cool-seeming individual, but he’s also an intensely proud man. Hell, they annoyed me. Vermes’ comments are classic bulletin board disrespecting material. Don’t be surprised if Vieira’s used them to motivate the Blues.

With this being the third game in eight days for New York City, and with some players — notably defender Frederic Brillant — listed as questionable in the injury report, expect some changes in the lineup for New York City.

Obviously, Saunders lines up in goal. I think we’re back to Matarrita at left back, Hernandez and Mena in center, and Allen at right back. In the midfield, I think we’ll see Iraola, Pirlo, and Lopez. Maybe we’ll see Lampard, maybe we’ll see Diskerud. I say maybe because the New England turf is famously unforgiving, so it’s an open question on how quickly guys like Pirlo and Lampard recover from it, which opens the door for Diskerud.

Up top? Harrison and Villa, obviously, likely Tommy McNamara, but don’t be surprised if you see Shelton.

The Blues will be rocking the HypnoKits for this one.

Tonight’s game will be on Fox Sports 1. It’ll be streamed live on Fox Sports Go.