NYCFC is prepping for Wednesday evening’s matchup with the New York Cosmos, as the two franchises battle in fourth round action of the U.S. Open Cup.
City is looking for their first derby win against the Cosmos, one of the flagship franchises in the North American Soccer League, and also in the process of looking to earn its first trophy of any kind in the franchise’s brief two-year history.
But in order to break its schneid and recent lackluster play, City will need to adjust its fledgling defense and get back in synch.
It seems so long ago when NYCFC was the toast of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, were within a point of being at the top of the conference, and looking down at their cross-river rivals, the New York Red Bulls. But fast forward a month, and suddenly City is fourth in the standings, five points behind the Philadelphia Union – and now looking up to the Red Bulls as well.
A lot was taken out of City’s sails following its disastrous and historic 7-0 home loss to the Red Bulls on May 21, so it’s up to head coach Patrick Vieira to help his team right things. City hasn’t won a game since, and that’s largely due to defensive breakdowns at inopportune moments.
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The team has been diligently training on Jack Coffey Field’s turf on the campus of Fordham University. Vieira has been running his outfit through split-squad action and reportedly spending a lot of time specifically mentoring the patchwork defense. He’s been intently instructing the back line of defense, notably Ethan White, Shannon Gomez, Diego Martinez, and Jefferson Mena – with 6-foot-7 Norwegian backup goalkeeper Eirik Johansen in net. Johansen is a product of the famed Manchester City Academy, but has yet to be used this season.
But when all hands are on deck, all hands are on deck. And Vieira is hoping the extra attention to detail helps City knock off the Cosmos for the first time ever, and kick-start their MLS run.
“We enter a competition because we want to win. And we want to do well, but it is important for us to regain our focus [and] concentration, and not take this game for granted,” Vieira said. “We have to work hard, respect our principles, and match the competitiveness.”
City won’t return to MLS action until June 18th – after 16 days of a break in action -- so besides the goal of advancing in Open Cup play, they are doing everything they can to get the defense back to par, with the stretch run of league action coming to a close.
- Besides the lackluster MLS play, Vieira said the turf at Fordham is an additional worry. The Cosmos play its home games on turf at Hofstra University, while City plays on grass – and a bit of infield dirt – at Yankee Stadium. It’s not ideal, said Vieira: “It’s what we have to cope with [and] not the best to play a Cup game, but that is what we have around and that is what we have to deal with.” Fordham’s field is 120 yards x 75 yards, which is wider than the Yankee Stadium field.