NYCFC are coming off a scintillating but ultimately disappointing 1-1 draw against Seattle Sounders in the CONCACAF Champions League. Don’t let the scoreline fool you: New York City thoroughly outplayed Seattle, and played their best football of the year in the second half. The NYCFCF faithful would like more of that, please.
Now that cross-conference play is back in MLS, we find ourselves pulling dusty old binders off the shelves in the Hudson River Blue archive to look up information about teams NYCFC rarely play, such as Real Salt Lake. It turns out RSL has the best win rate against NYCFC in MLS: The two clubs have met a total of five times, and Real have won four of those matches—including the most recent game, a 3-1 shellacking in Salt Lake City on August 3, 2019.
It was a different story when Salt Lake City last played at Yankee Stadium on April 11, 2018: NYCFC won 4-0 behind a top-of-the-box from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, a penalty from Maxi Moralez (!), a beautiful carry from Jo Inge Berget (!!), and the first club goal scored by Ebenezer Ofori.
Match: NYCFC host Real Salt Lake
Date and Time: Sunday, April 17, 1 pm ET
Venue: Yankee Stadium
Stream: YES app
Listen: The game will be broadcast in both English and Spanish on NYCFC Radio
• Injury report: Maxi Moralez and Maxime Chanot are questionable—Moralez suffered a rib injury suffered while training in Seattle, and Chanot is out with an eye injury suffered while on international duty with the Luxembourg national team. Defender Anton Tinnerholm is out with the Achilles injury he suffered last October. The rest of the squad is available.
• The thermometer outside Billy’s Sports Bar will read a crisp 46˚F/8˚C at kickoff time.
• NYCFC have yet to find their scoring groove, but if they play anything like they did in Wednesday’s game against Seattle it wouldn't be surprising to see Taty Castellanos notch his first goal of the MLS season, and Talles Magno get on the scoreboard. The team was at their most dangerous when right-winger Gabriel Pereira was subbed on after the half.
• After enduring one of the most savage travel schedules in the history of MLS, New York City are about to start on their cushiest run of matches this season: Five home games in a row on regular rest, all to be played at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.
• Real Salt Lake have three wins and three draws after seven games, which is good enough for sixth place in the Western Conference, but their recent run of form is wobbly: A 1-0 loss at home against Sporting Kansas City, a 1-1 draw away at Colorado Rapids, and a 2-2 draw at home with Toronto FC.
• This is a transitional year for RSL. The club lost Designated Player Albert Rusnák to Seattle (remember him?), but added striker Sergio Cordova on loan from FC Augsburg. The 24-year-old Venezuelan international has scored one goal for Real so far—expect to see him charging down the middle at Alexander Callens and Thiago Martins.
• But really, the most important offseason move involved the ownership: The club was sold to David Blitzer and Ryan Smith in January, putting “an end to a 15-month ownership saga” that started when former owner Dell Loy Hansen was pushed out in August, 2020, after a pattern of racist and abusive behavior was made public. Smith is also the majority owner of the Utah Jazz.
• RSL still have 29-year-old Bobby Wood: The onetime-US international has scored two goals for Salt Lake this year. That ties him with 24-year-old Tate Schmitt for the team lead.
• Injuries have depleted Salt Lake City’s defense and attack: The team will be without center-back Johan Kappelhof, center-back Erik Holt, defender Zack Farnsworth, defender Bret Halsey, and star winger Jonathan Menendez. Starting center-back Justen Glad and defender Jasper Löffelsend are questionable.
• Salt Lake City might have MLS supervillain David Ochoa in the goal now that he’s off the injured list. A master of the dark arts and football s-housery, Ochoa was quoted by Real Soap Box as saying “I definitely want to get into the opposing team’s head. When I take my time on goal-kicks and when I waste time, it’s to get into their heads and not let them get into a rhythm. And when I shush the fans, it’s also to get the crowd buzzing. I like when they’re talking smack behind me, I think it makes me play better.”
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UPDATE: The starting lineup was announced at 12:16 pm ET