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PREVIEW: New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire (8pm ET, UniMas)

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This one has three points written all over it. Can the hometown Blues avoid a letdown?

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Fire look like a team lost in time.

No top-five conference finishes since 2009? Check.

An ownership group utterly unwilling to spend much on players, even within the modest economic standards of MLS? Check.

A suburban stadium boondoggle shackling Bridgeview’s taxpayers? Check.

The lowest average attendance in the Eastern Conference yet again? Check and mate.

Hmm. Almost makes you pine for some good ol’ relegation.

In so many ways, New York City FC ought to take care of this team in a big way, Frank Lampard’s soleus strain notwithstanding. In a matchup if the modern versus the archaic, the team with the spiffy designated players, world-famous coach, and thoroughly jacked-up fans ought to have the edge.

Right?

Unfortunately, nothing is certain in MLS as the league’s many would-be contenders pivot toward the cavalry charge to the playoffs. NYCFC, after all, has never played postseason ball before. So, as much as one turns to the maxim of “Act Like You've Been There Before,” we just don’t know how Patrick Vieira’s side is going to react down this ever-important back stretch of the season.

Especially considering that NYCFC has surrendered 52 goals on the year, which would be worst in the league if not for Orlando City (53).

Fire forward David Accam will demand significant attention tonight under the lights at Yankee Stadium. The fleet-footed Ghanaian can spring a solo counter attack with MacGuyver-esque economy, and has benefited, particularly in the second half of the season, from a series of pleasing performances from Dutch attacking man Michael de Leeuw.

Suffice to say that if Jefferson Mena’s number is called for tonight’s Starting XI, we could be looking at another barn-burner on par with the Blues’ 4-3 win in Bridgeview on opening day.

“It’s gonna be a tough game,” City warlock Tommy McNamara said in training this week at SUNY Purchase. “They’ve done fairly well in their recent games, and it’s gonna be a difficult one. We need to make sure we’re prepared.”

T-Mac may very well have his work cut out for him tonight: he’s a leading candidate to replace Frank Lampard in the central attacking midfield.

“[Chicago] will be well-organized, and they will make it very difficult for us,” added Vieira. “We have to give everything. I think when you get to that stage where we are in the table, you have to work harder. Even harder.”

As Outkast reminded us back in 1998, nothing is for sure, nothing is for certain, nothing lasts forever.

But until the soccer gods close the curtain on NYCFC’s sophomore campaign, it’s time for the committee to burn it down.

HOW TO WATCH

New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire
Friday, September 23, 8:00pm ET
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

WATCH on UniMas

LISTEN on WFAN 660AM (English) & WQBU 92.7FM (Spanish)

STREAM on Univision Deportes

EDITORS’ PREDICTION

NYCFC 2, Fire 0. The Blues get a nice burn going. David Villa taps in a deflection for an easy opener, and Khiry Shelton keeps the mojo going on the other side of halftime. Mix Diskerud makes the team sheet. No center backs line up at fullback. Justice is served.