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Who Will NYCFC Start Against the Revs?

The Blues are very depleted once again. So, we gotta get creative...

MLS: New York Red Bulls at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For those who haven’t already seen the injury report that New York City FC released today ahead of their home matchup against the New England Revolution tomorrow, let me spare you the suspense: it’s not good. As a matter of fact, there is a word that comes to mind when I look at any such list. And that word is “catastrophic.”

Let’s go through some names, shall we? As a matter of fact, here’s the complete list:

  • QUESTIONABLE: D - Alex Callens (Knee)
  • OUT: F - Jo Inge Berget (Adductor)
  • OUT: M - Yangel Herrera (Ankle)
  • OUT: D - Cedric Hountondji (Hamstring)
  • OUT: M - Jesus Medina (Hamstring)
  • INTERNATIONAL DUTY: D - Maxime Chanot
  • INTERNATIONAL DUTY: M - Rodney Wallace
  • INTERNATIONAL DUTY: M - Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
  • INTERNATIONAL DUTY: M - Ebenezer Ofori

Yup. That is 9(!) players listed as being unavailable, questionable, or out on international duty. Six of these players could very well be considered perennial starters for the Boys in Blue, making matters even more complicated.

But with two more games to play this week in the span of four days, NYCFC doesn’t have the luxury of waiting these out. So, the question remains: who among the warm bodies on the training ground are capable of starting tomorrow against the Revs?

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way:

  • David Villa will start at the striker position
  • Sean Johnson will start in net
  • Anton Tinnerholm will start at right back
  • Alex Ring will start at defensive midfield
  • Maxi Moralez will start at attacking midfield
  • Sebastien Ibeagha will definitely take up one of the available center back spots

OK, so that’s six positions covered. Five more to go. This is where it can get interesting and vary from person to person.

But, I have put my manager hat on whilst pouring a cold, refreshing glass of Mountain Dew and am ready to take this on. Before I start, I want to point out that Alex Callens is currently listed as merely questionable and could very well be named to the squad tomorrow evening. If that should happen, then maybe my first listed option no longer holds up. But still, we have to be prepared for everything.

With that said, here is how I see everyone else falling into place:

Ben Sweat will play center back, while Ronald Matarrita fills in at left back

MLS: Montreal Impact at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong, I think Sweat is the better of the two current options at left back. However, he is much more versatile when it comes to positioning than Mata is and can cover a center back position if need be. This is a similar tactic to the one used last year during the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals after Alex Callens was shown a red card in the first leg. And sure enough, Sweat held his own at CB in a 2-0 win that ultimately was just short of what they needed to advance.

As I mentioned earlier, if Callens is good to go, then this tactic becomes moot. It’s also worth mentioning that James Sands’ loan with Louisville City has come to an end as of a few days ago, and he may very well be a viable option in Maxime Chanot’s absence.

Eloi Amagat will most likely get another chance at the holding midfield position

MLS: New York Red Bulls at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Amagat’s first impression with NYCFC wasn’t a good one. 40 minutes into his debut with the club — against the New York Red Bulls of all teams — Eloi was rightfully sent off for a reckless challenge. For that, it would have been rational to say that the former Girona veteran would be hard-pressed to find any more significant playing time in the famous blue Etihad shirt.

Fortunately for Amagat, the onus was on Tommy McNamara to make a case for more minutes in his shift against the Columbus Crew this past weekend. Despite my vintage fondness for the West Nyack native, I cannot say with good faith that he accomplished that. And because of T-Mac’s mediocre performance, I’d say it’s a virtual certainty that, for better or worse, we see Amagat return to the Eithad Pitch tomorrow night.

Jonathan Lewis and Taty Castellanos will occupy the wings

We have been clamoring for it, and now we might finally get it: Jonathan Lewis, in all likelihood, will start against New England. Given manager Domé Torrent’s past selections, I also suspect Taty Castellanos — the young, promising Argentine on loan from Torque — will line up opposite Lewis.

With Jesus Medina out with injury and the likes of both Rodney Wallace and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi out on international duty, the time has come for Lewis to finally make his stamp on the game and validate the fans’ overwhelming support of the Akron alum. And should he somehow not get any such opportunity tomorrow night, Lewis must immediately reach for his phone to call his agent and demand a move at the earliest opportunity.

The time to tap into Lewis’ potential game-changing abilities is now.

As for Taty, I find it imminent he starts unless, of course, Domé sees it best to pull a page out of Patrick Vieira’s old playbook and start McNamara on the wing. But that’s highly unlikely.

Those were my predictions. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below!