It’s Game Day 30, and New York City FC are back in Queens to play FC Cincinnati for the second time this season.
The first matchup didn’t go as planned for NYCFC. The 4-4 draw in Porkopolis that was equal parts shambolic and sublime was the first time Cincinnati had taken points from a game with New York City, and it served as a calling card for a team that has been the Eastern Conference punching bag since joining MLS in 2019, and that now find themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot.
Still, the overall head-to-head favors NYCFC with six wins, one draw zero losses. New York City have scored 26 and allowed just 9 for a goal differential of +17.
Match: NYCFC vs FC Cincinatti
Date and Time: Wednesday, September 7, 8 pm ET
Venue: Citi Field
Bruce Arena Forecast: Breezy, cool, slight chance of rain, 72˚F/22˚C
Watch: ESPN+ (blackouts apply)
Stream: YES App
Listen: English and Spanish broadcasts on NYCFC Radio
• Player Availability: Justin Haak (fatigue), Alfredo Morales (lower body), and Anton Tinnerholm (lower body) are out with injuries. Alexander Callens, Thiago Martins, and Keaton Parks are all expected to return to the lineup.
• NYCFC are in abysmal form. With just one win in their last eight games, the squad has is coming close to performing at expansion club levels — you have to go back to last year’s slump to find a worse run of 10 matches, and all the way back to 2015 to find a season with multiple three-game losing streaks. New York City have scored a decent-ish 12 goals in their last 10 games, but have allowed a disappointing 16 goals.
• How will Cushing line up the defense? Are Callens and Martins ready to start and go the full 90 minutes? Or will Tayvon Gray get another start at center-back? Will Vuk Latinovich get the nod? The backup has been a benchwarmer for most of his time at NYCFC, but he didn't make any howlers on Sunday against New England. Will it be Samuel Owusu? The 21-year-old NYCFC II regular made his MLS debut on Sunday as a late-game sub.
• Cushing issued something of a call-to-arms in yesterday's press conference. “We love playing in front of our fans. We love Yankee Stadium, we love Citi Field,” he said. “We know those places feel like home, we know that we get a really good atmosphere, we know that we almost get pushed by the supporters in those difficult moments...we know we’re in a difficult moment. We’re frustrated, we’re hungry, and we know that we need our fans. We need a really good atmosphere at Citi Field,” Cushing added. “Together, I’m more than confident that we can put on a big performance.”
• Going to the game? Take the train: Seemingly the Citi Field parking lot is set aside for the US Open. HRB contributor Andrew Leigh has something to say about that.
• Still, we like going to games at Citi Field: Good sight lines, good vibes, good food. Be sure to read the essential HRB guide to what to eat at Citi Field.
• This midweek matchup is the only MLS game being played today. Both teams will be on short rest today, and again when they play on Saturday.
• Cincinnati are on a seven-game undefeated streak that saw them beat Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union 3-1 at home and draw New Jersey Red Bulls in Harrison. Still, most of those results are draws: Cincinnati have just two wins and one loss in their last 10 games, for 13 points out of a possible 30.
• Cincinnati sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, level on points with seventh-place New England with a game in hand. The fact is that NYCFC have done a good job of lifting the playoff hopes of others, handing key victories to Columbus Crew, Orlando City, Inter Miami, and New England Revolution: New York City are the giving tree of the 2022 postseason.
• Forward Brandon Vázquez is among the MLS leading scorers with 16 goals this season, level with Jesús Ferreira of FC Dallas. Midfielder Luciano Acosta might lead the league with 16 assists, but he’s unavailable because of yellow card accumulation.
• While NYCFC essentially sat out the summer transfer window, Cincinnati bolstered their defense with the signing of Matt Miasma from FC Chelsea on August 5. Since then he has made four starts.
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