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PREVIEW: New York City FC vs. DC United (7pm ET, YES Network)

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Can the Blues put a stop to former teammate Patrick Mullins’s scorching form for the Black & Red?

MLS: Chicago Fire at D.C. United Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mullins for NYCFC: 18 league games, 6 goals, 4 assists.

Mullins for DC United: 5 league games, 5 goals, 1 assist.

Boom. The Maryland grad’s return to the Beltway has been an elixir. But his latest goal-scoring tear has folks in the Five Boroughs daydreaming about what could have been.

Under Patrick Vieira’s system, which insists on a front three with David Villa at the center forward spot, Mullins had no clear path to major minutes, and was shipped away in July for an international roster spot and allocation funds. Really, no matter which shirt he’s wearing, Mullins is an efficient goal-scorer, can play in the air, and tends to be one of those right-place-right-time guys. He deserved to feature somewhere.

And damn, has he ever featured over the last six weeks for the Black & Red. Following a hat trick last weekend that gave Mullins his fifth tally in as many games, the New Orleans native was named MLS Player of the Week.

Tonight, he’ll be bringing all that momentum with him on the occasion of his return to Yankee Stadum, along with a stout defense led by Steve Birnbaum that has conceded just 33 goals on the year, good for the second-best mark in the Eastern Conference.

“[DC] have a very good run at the moment, some really good football, and winning games,” Patrick Vieira said this week. “I strongly believe we have what it takes to win the game. Of course, we’ll need to work harder than we did in our last game.”

Indeed, New York City will need all hands on deck if they hope to right the ship. Despite the fact that a win would send Vieira’s team back into first place in the East, there’s an air of malaise in NYCFC land following a 2-1 loss in Orlando last weekend that made it four straight without a win on the road.

But that can all change with a command performance under the lights tonight.

“We’ve lost not too many games In the last two or three months, but we’ve reacted very well,” Frank Lampard told NYCFC.com during training this week. “I think when we play as well as we can, we can beat anybody.”

HOW TO WATCH

New York City FC vs. DC United
Thursday, September 1st, 7:00pm ET
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

WATCH on YES Network

LISTEN on WFAN 660AM (English) & WADO 1280AM (Spanish)

STREAM on Fox Sports Go (NY market) & MLS Live (out-of-market)