This is a big week for New York City FC. Not only will Thursday’s match against the New York Red Bulls be the team’s return game to the 2020 MLS season, it will also be the first edition of the Hudson River Derby this year. A lot is riding on this game as NYCFC sits at second-to-last in the Eastern Conference with only three points through their five games. And if the club wishes to make inroads towards turning their season around, as well as get a huge one-up on their local rivals, this match is a must win for the Boys in Blue.
But it may be an uphill battle for City. Not only is this game — as well as every one of their home games in foreseeable future — set in Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, NYCFC also face several questions on the injury front.
In the pregame presser, NYCFC manager Ronny Deila ruled Gedion Zelalem out and also gave questionable prognoses on both Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajorui-Shradi.
“Injury wise, [Tajouri-Shradi] is holding up,” Deila told the press on Tuesday. “But he’s not still with the squad — he’s not training with the team still. Gedion [Zelalem] is out. He’s getting better, but still has some time to go... And Maxi [Moralez], we don’t know 100% about him. But it is a little bit like it was in Orlando [for the MLS is Back Tournament], so we have to see after the game.”
Now, it’s important to note that Deila seems like he’s implying that Maxi could still play against RBNY on Thursday. But given the context of Deila’s answer — comparing his condition to what it was in Orlando — it seems very likely that Maxi could play a limited shift against City’s biggest rivals.
Tajouri-Shradi’s condition seems to be the most concerning, as he has yet to rejoin the club’s full training sessions since returning to New York. Typically, if a player is training solo on the sidelines and hasn’t joined the full squad, it means that he’s not playing the next game. How NYCFC can replace such a dynamic and clinical player could be the difference between victory and defeat in a game as emotional as this one.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that whatever could best benefit this team in the next 24 hours happens. It’s been a tough year, both on and off the pitch. And God knows NYCFC need this game.