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Despite odd form, NYCFC emerges as favorites to beat Pumas in Leagues Cup

Despite City’s dip in their most recent road trip, City seems poised to dispatch of a Pumas team in crisis

MSL. New York City FC Vs Sporting Kansas City. Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, New York, USA. Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

I can’t express to you how frustrating this past week has been in relation to being an New York City FC supporter. Despite facing match congestion on a short road trip, it wasn’t asking much of an in-form NYCFC to make easy work of teams like the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC, two clubs that have struggled immensely all season. Collecting a mere two points from each — a scoreless draw against Chicago and terrible collapse that lead to a 2-2 draw against Toronto — was unacceptable. City came into those games with the opportunity to put themselves firmly in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. And yeah, they’re 3rd right now just two points below Orlando City with a game in hand. But those were two games they should’ve won.

Despite these disappointments, many onlookers consider NYCFC to be the odds-on favorites to progress past the Leagues Cup Quarterfinal against Pumas UNAM on Wednesday. And for good reason.

According to a conversation I and others had with NYCFC Spanish broadcaster Roberto Abramowitz after City’s draw against TFC, Pumas is not very good right now, They have become depleted on defense due to injuries and their primary goalkeeper recently tested positive for COVID-19, leaving him ineligible for Saturday’s Leagues Cup tie. Pumas is on even shorter rest than NYCFC is, having played Sunday afternoon in a 3-1 loss to Atletico San Luis whereas City played on Saturday with a slightly rotated team.

Furthering NYCFC’s advantage is the availability of Yankee Stadium as their host venue, the first time their regular confines have ever been host to a cup game. The Boys in Blue have been dominant in the House That Jeter Built all season, with their last two wins at the stadium being dominant 5-0 and 4-1 wins over Orlando and the Columbus Crew, respectively. Should City be able to have some rested legs going into this one, there’s no reason to doubt their ability to truck past a team that has struggled immensely in their first four Liga MX Apertura games.