NYCFC are coming off a wild 4-4 draw in Cincinnati that packed so much entertainment into 90 minutes plus stoppage time it shouldn’t be legal. New York City were bumbling at times, imperious at others, a mix of defensive gaffes and quality goals. That following evening Atlanta United took a hard-fought lead against the New Jersey Red Bulls only to lose 2-1 in the dying minutes of the game.
The two teams have faced each other a total of 11 times, and the results are dead even: Both sides have three wins, three losses, and four draws. They last played in November, when New York City knocked Atlanta out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a comprehensive 2-0 victory that set the tone for NYCFC’s run to the title. Brad Guzan was in the net that night. Good memories.
Match: NYCFC play Atlanta United
Date and Time: Sunday, July 3, 5 pm ET
Venue: Yankee Stadium
Forecast: Partially sunny, humid, rising pressure, 82˚F/28˚C
Watch: ESPN+, YES
Stream: YES App
Listen: The game will be broadcast in both English and Spanish on NYCFC Radio
• Keaton Parks is out after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot, and Thiago Martins remains out with a lower-body injury. Maxime Chanot (who cut his leg in the Cincinnati game when he slid into the goalpost), and Taty Castellanos (who had a mild illness) are listed as questionable, but interim head coach Nick Cushing said in a press conference yesterday that they will likely be available.
• Will Justin Haak find minutes? The Brooklyn-born homegrown has been one of the standout players on the NYCFC II squad, and he handled himself well after being subbed on in the game against Cincinnati. With Parks unlikely to return to the lineup anytime soon, NYCFC could use his defensive grit and progressive vision.
• Will Héber get the start? His two goals against Cincinnati were pure class, vintage Héber strikes that bring to mind the best of 2019.
• This will be a matchup of similarly possession- and attack-minded teams — there will be none of the defensive bunkering and negative football we saw in the matches against Colorado, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. When New York City and Atlanta faced each other last year, NYCFC ceded possession and won the game, but you get the impression that Cushing will want to keep the ball and outplay United.
• One key to Atlanta’s possession is goalkeeper Rocco Ríos Novo. The 20-year-old Argentine youth international is a sweeper-keeper along the lines of Manuel Neuer: Many of United’s runs of play begin at the feet of Ríos Novo.
• Atlanta will likely have a full-strength lineup. Expect to see Josef Martinez, Thiago Almada, Marcelino Moreno, and Luiz Araúo in the Starting XI.
• Despite the strong roster Atlanta have been a dysfunctional squad this year, and the fans back in Georgia are dreading this game. United have won just once on the road this year, and that was way back on April 2 when they played DC United.
• The oddsmakers overwhelmingly pick NYCFC to win. As of the publication of this article, BetMGM taps Taty Castellanos as the most likely to score, followed by Héber, Talles Magno, Thiago, Gabriel Pereira, Santiago Rodríguez, and Maxi Moralez.
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Update: The starting lineup was announced at 4:12 pm ET