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PREVIEW: New York City FC vs. Houston Dynamo (8pm ET, UniMás)

VIERNES DE FÚTBOL OTRA VEZ! The playoff-bound Blues are out for style points against another last-place team.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Three games left to play.

The Reds of Toronto in first place on 49 points.

Two Hudson River rivals right behind on 48.

There’s a time to play, and a time to win.

Somebody call Reggie Miller, because this is winning time.

Patrick Vieira’s NYCFC squad will have every chance to keep their mojo working tonight at BBVA Compass Stadium. The hometown Houston Dynamo have struggled all year, posting just seven in the win column to date. New York City boast six wins in road games alone.

Despite heading into the evening without the services of Frank Lampard (calf), Maxime Chanot (herniated disc), and Stiven Mendoza (hamstring), the Boys in Blue will look to ride in-form young guns Khiry Shelton and Jack Harrison, who have combined for a goal and five assists in their last two games. Tommy McNamara will likely man the Lampard role up the middle, where he put in a fine shift in last weekend’s 4-1 smasher over Chicago.

Oh, and David Villa is back to dumping goals again.

The Dynamo are just two goals underwater on goal difference, and have conceded fifteen fewer on the year than New York City. They’ve allowed one goal or fewer in eleven of their fourteen home contests on the year. In the scoring column, young forward Mauro Manotas is coming off a splendid hat trick against Portland, which landed him MLS Player of the Week honors.

But, again, David Villa.

In the Houston camp, there’s already talk of playing spoiler. I don’t know what that means in the context of a New York City FC team that’s already punched its ticket for the postseason— are they excited about the possibility of denying a second-year team a first-round bye? That would strike me as strange. In any event, though, it’s time to deny Wade Barrett’s team the very possibility.

EDITORS’ PREDICTION

NYC 1, Dynamo 0. A second-half David Villa penalty kick is the difference as Houston buckles down and rarely gives an inch. Some timely Josh Saunders saves and a miraculously athletic stop from Jefferson Mena seal the deal for the visitors at the back in a hard-fought prime-time contest.