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PREVIEW: New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC

Blues return to Florida on Sunday in search of a rare win over the Lions

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Again? We have to play these guys again??

It may as well have been yesterday that Orlando City outclassed NYCFC at Yankee Stadium 2-1. Or that they stupefied the Boys in Blue 1-0 on opening day. Hell, let’s do it one more time and see what happens.

If you’re not excited about this one, though, you’re not wrong. In eight total meetings to date, our fair New York City FC sports just one single win over the Floridians. That win — a 5-3 marvel in the Bronx back in July 2015 — is famous for being the day in which Andrea Pirlo bewitched MLS fans’ collective hearts, coming off the bench to conduct a 30-minute playmaker’s master class.

Yet interestingly enough, Pirlo is a huge reason why the Blues have struggled so mightily against Orlando since that day. Few understand the Maestro’s limitations (read: exploitability) better than Jason Kreis, the only man to experience both sides of this alleged rivalry. It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that the OCSC gaffer has directed pressure right at Pirlo to great effect.

But this time, he likely won’t have the chance to do so again— as Wednesday’s debacle in Utah proved for the 10,000th time, Pirlo doesn’t fit into Patrick Vieira’s setup whatsoever; he barely fit into Kreis’s besides. We’d much rather see Mikey Lopez marauding up and down. Much rather.

Otherwise, NYCFC could be staring down back-to-back losses for the first time in 2017.

THE LAST TIME WE PLAYED

THREE THINGS WE’RE WATCHING FOR

  1. Assuming the Maestro doesn’t start, who takes up his spot in midfield? With Yangel Herrera away with Venezuela at the U20 World Cup and Tommy McNamara struggling to put his stamp on things as a starter, there’s no easy answer. Give us Mikey!
  2. Vieira rotated the squad Wednesday in light of a cramped fixture schedule, but Maxi Moralez and Alex Ring remained in their regular roles. If these guys ever need a rest, NYCFC fans had better hope it isn’t in this game.
  3. New York City is not capable of stopping Cyle Larin, so Vieira needs to be ready to go balls-to-the-wall. If things look dire, don’t be surprised to see four forwards in the last 15-20 minutes.