Fans of New York City FC were given encouraging news when NYCFC.com accounced that stars David Villa and Alex Ring were both upgraded to “questionable” ahead of the team’s home matchup against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. Because of this revelation, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for supporters to expect both Villa and Ring to participate in some capacity against RSL, whether it be in the starting XI or off the bench.
But — as we have learned in the past — the season is a marathon, not a sprint towards the finish. Rushing both Villa and Ring back to face a midtable Real Salt Lake might not be the best solution in the long-term. As a matter of fact, it might not even be necessary.
Villa has missed three straight games for NYCFC. In that time, however, newcomer Ismael Tajouri-Shradi has filled in valiantly as far as scoring goals is concerned. Seeing as the Libyan forward has been able to get the job done while on the road against the New England Revolution and even supplementing the playmaking against the San Jose Earthquakes, there is little reason to believe that he couldn’t provide at least one more fill-in against RSL at home in the Bronx.
Though Ebenezer Ofori — Ring’s formal replacement for the past few weeks — hasn’t been “stellar” per se, I feel he is deserving of one last chance to prove why he should be considered for more minutes moving forward. Mind you, Ofori still has talents like Yangel Herrera and Maxi Moralez around him to make up for his lack of cohesion in recent weeks.
But what it all comes down to is Atlanta United. Should NYCFC wish to get through this year on top of the Eastern Conference and into the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League, the Five Stripes are one of the teams that they will need to hold down.
Expediting the assimilation of both Villa and Ring shows no real upside. Especially considering that the Boys in Blue have a date with Atlanta in the Gate City on April 15 just four days after their clash with RSL on the Etihad Pitch at Yankee Stadium — this is a game that should absolutely feature El Guaje and the Ringmaster. Atlanta has a high-octane offense led by players like Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron, and will have perhaps the truest home advantage of any team in the league at the world-class Mercedes-Benz Stadium. If there’s any game that is worth saving the contributions of David Villa or Alex Ring for, that would be the one.
In a week in which the team will play twice in four days, NYCFC will have to pick their spots to ensure not just Villa and Ring’s fitness moving forward, but their overall effectiveness as well.
What do you think? Should Villa and Ring be preserved against Real Salt Lake? Should they be allowed to participate? Let us know in the comments!