New York City FC makes its first trip to BC Place since 2015 to take on the hometown Vancouver Whitecaps tonight. Here are the three big narratives we’re following in the run up to kickoff at 10:00pm ET on YES:
- WE’RE GOING STREAKING: After sweeping their league slate in June with four straight wins, the Blues enter tonight’s tilt with a chance to make a little history: their first five-game win streak in MLS play. While we’ll be the first to volunteer the idea that momentum in sports is imagined rather than real — it can be both created and destroyed, and capriciously — there’s something to be said for reaching any milestone predicated on winning. Of course, this win streak has included three games at home, and one a stone’s throw across the Hudson River. Will Patrick Vieira be able to keep his team focused on what’s really important so far from home?
- NORTHWEST SWING: Speaking of tonight’s venue, let’s talk about the Whitecaps for a moment, beginning with one unavoidable fact: they’ve never beaten NYCFC. The Blues took a 3-1 decision at BC Place in September 2015 and a 3-2 home victory last April. While Vancouver has yet to concede more than two goals at home in MLS this year, a hot New York City side is the perfect opponent to break the cycle. With a win tonight, New York City would extend its combined record against the league’s three Pacific Northwest teams to six wins versus just two losses— eighteen points out of a possible 24! Is it the water?
- EIRIK LEAVES HOME: With Sean Johnson away with the U.S. National Team in preparation for the Gold Cup, Eirik Johansen will make his second consecutive start between the sticks for NYCFC. Though he presided over a 3-1 victory over Minnesota his last time out, there’s no other way about it: New York City conceded first due to a Johansen howler. If he can’t manage to make 100% of potential routine saves tonight, it could be a tiresome affair for the visitors. In Fredy Montero and Cristian Techera, who have combined to provide 48% of the Caps’ league goals this year, Johansen faces two unavoidable threats. We’ve seen what happens when Johansen plays on the road in a new environment— remember last year’s playoff debacle against Toronto? New York City’s netminder must be able to keep things even-keel tonight. If he can’t, it’ll be time to brace for the worst.