NYCFC are on a dominating run of form that puts Liverpool FC to shame: Undefeated in their last six games, New York City have taken 16 out of a possible 18 points, scoring 18 goals and allowing just four. NYCFC have five clean sheets in those matches, and haven't allowed a shot on goal since May 1. The Pigeons are fire.
And Chicago are washed: The team are dead last in all of MLS, and haven’t won a game since March 19. But they managed a 3-3 draw against our old pals New Jersey Red Bulls in Harrison on Wednesday, with the Eight Million Dollar Man (aka Xherdan Shaqiri) scoring his third goal of the season — if he works a little harder and he might catch up to Thiago.
The two clubs have met 16 times, and NYCFC have dominated: Eight wins, five draws, and three losses, with 27 goals scored and 18 goals allowed. Still, the two teams were evenly matched in the three games they played in 2021: NYCFC won once, drew once, and lost once.
Match: NYCFC host Chicago Fire
Date and Time: Sunday, May 22, 5 pm ET
Venue: Citi Field
Forecast: Overcast, increasing chance of showers, 83˚F/27˚C
Watch: ESPN+, YES
Stream: YES App
Listen: The game will be broadcast in both English and Spanish on NYCFC Radio
• Injury Report: Forward Kevin O’Toole is out with a head injury, and Defender Anton Tinnerholm is out with the Achilles injury he suffered last October. Malte Amundsen, Chris Gloster, Tayvon Gray, and Maxi Moralez are all questionable with lower body issues. NYCFC could have problems in the defense.
• NYCFC will be without Taty Castellanos, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
• Who will start in place of New York City’s most productive goal scorer? The last time Castellanos wasn’t in the lineup, Héber played striker — and the team was held scoreless at Citi Field by Sporting Kansas City despite having 74% possession. That was a grim vision of a post-Taty NYCFC.
• Chicago Fire have been a hot mess this year. The team made the biggest preseason acquisition in club history when they brought former Bayern Munich and Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri over from Olympique Lyonnais and signed him to a contract that pays him more than $8 million per year. Chicago went undefeated in the first five games of the season, but it was largely behind the goalkeeping heroics of wunderkind Gabriel Slonina, who had four clean sheets in that stretch. Shaqiri scored one goal in those five games, and it was a penalty.
• Chicago were winless in their following seven games, and now sit at the bottom of the MLS table with 11 points after 12 games. It was largely due to the dip in form of wunderkind Slonina, who gave up 14 goals in the last five games. The NYCFC attack have to like that.
• Still, Slonina has performed exceptionally well against NYCFC in the past. He made his professional debut against the Pigeons at the age of 17, and held a potent New York City attack scoreless.
• FWIW, Fire last won a road game on March 12, ten weeks ago.
• The oddsmakers pick NYCFC to be the overwhelming favorite to win. As of the publication of this article, Héber is tapped as the most likely to score, followed by Thiago, Santiago Rodríguez, Maxi Moralez, and Talles Magno.
Now that Taty is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, who should Ronny play as striker?
This poll is closed
Héber, give the veteran some minutes against a team that give up goals easily
Maxi: He can play anywhere
Santi: Let Maxi be the No 10 again (he can play anywhere)
Thiago: Gabriel Pereira will get the start on the right
Kevin O’Toole: Let the kid run at the defense before bringing in Héber
The comment section below is for everybody in the Hudson River Blue community to use for the game thread. Not a member? It’s free: Sign up here.
UPDATE: The starting lineup was announced at 4:18 pm ET