The Rapids of Colorado, currently second in the Western Conference, don't allow very many goals.
Lately, they haven't scored so many of them, either.
There's no more logical opponent, then, for a New York City FC squad that will have to do without David Villa due to yellow card accumulation that came to a head last weekend at Red Bull Arena.
Just for kicks, Patrick Vieira won't be able to call upon the services of RJ Allen or Ethan White for similar reasons. The squad will have to rotate, and perhaps even come up with a bit of magic, in order to break through a Rapids defense that has only allowed 14 goals in 20 games-- that's 129 minutes per concession! I mean, have you seen Axel Sjoberg? If you stood him on Marc Burch's shoulders, you'd block out the sun and a bunch of other lesser stars besides.
Of course, let's not forget that there's only one team in this matchup that sits in first place in its conference. With that in mind, Patrick Vieira shouldn't be afraid to try something wild. How about Tommy McNamara as a false nine, with Frank Lampard right in behind him? How about Khiry Shelton and Tony Taylor back in the saddle together? How about cloning Jack Harrison six or seven times? Vieira's bag of tricks has included a 3-2-2-3 formation, center backs playing wide, a veteran fullback at the base of the midfield, and all manner of wonkish sundries in 2016.
As Vieira's foremost opportunistic goal-snatcher, Frank Lampard will be the mainest man in the middle by default, and will be expected to score if NYCFC figure to have a serious chance to win this one. He'll likely be the man tasked with penalty kick duty in Villa's absence-- considering Colorado's penchant for brickwalling would-be attackers, a spot kick might be the Blues' best chance at sniping one past Tim Howard, whose summertime arrival from Everton has done nothing to throw Pablo Mastroeni's team off their prodigious pace in the standings.
It all goes down this afternoon at 3:00pm. Where will you be?
HOW TO WATCH
New York City FC vs. Colorado Rapids
Saturday, July 30th, 3:00pm ET
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
WATCH on YES Network
LISTEN on WFAN 660AM (English) & WADO 1280AM (Spanish)