The first US Open Cup match-up between New York Red Bulls and New York City FC also happens to be the first time the teams are meeting in 2017.
Hudson River Blue's Sam Dunn stopped by OaM to fill us in on what to expect from NYCFC in USOC.
Once A Metro: Is NYCFC all in for USOC, or are we going to learn a lot about the depth of Patrick Vieira's squad from this game?
Sam Dunn, Hudson River Blue: The gaffer himself has claimed to be all in. While there's a quick turnaround to Saturday's midday league showdown with Seattle, this game matters more to NYCFC fans-- and not just because it's against the Jerseyites. The odious losses to the Cosmos that marred New York City's first two Open Cup jaunts still fairly stick in the craw. Notably, a designated player has never appeared in USOC play for the Boys in Blue. That changes now.
We see David Villa and Maxi Moralez both getting their shot in this one, what with ten days of rest behind them. And while this is the perfect time for Shannon Gomez to come out of the shadows, and for rotation guys like Ben Sweat, Frederic Brillant, and Mikey Lopez to stand and be counted, the team won't leave much up to chance. They can't afford to.
It's strange to realize that a New York City DP has never appeared in Open Cup play. That ends now.
OAM: If this is a match NYCFC approaches at half-speed, does that mean Pirlo gets a run?
HRB: Pirlo hurts the team when he's on the field. To be clear, that's not his fault-- it's Vieira's, and by design. The manager's style is far more conducive to having the prolific Maxi Moralez pull the midfield strings. Adding in the breakout of teenage star man Yangel Herrera, it looked like the Maestro was suddenly halfway out the door on an instant.
As Hudson River Blue's esteemed founder has said from the beginning, you either build your team around Pirlo's particular talents or you don't bother signing him at all.
Notably, Jason Kreis wanted Xavi instead, and NYC were said to be 90% of the way to inking him.
That would have been nice.
As it stands, the bulk of NYCFC fans don't feel great about the way things appear to stand with Pirlo. Free of any context, a megastar of his like deserves far, far better. But the fact remains that opponents have absolutely feasted on his defensive deficiency. If he plays against the Red Bulls, he'll be absolutely devoured.
Big picture, in a three-man midfield -- and in a league that doesn't permit the spending it takes to protect a guy like Pirlo with a fleet of destroyers -- Vieira has multiple options that offer lesser potential for blowback.
OaM: What sort of tactical approach do you expect from Vieira?
The Blues are going to play compact, and with a high defensive line, perhaps dangerously so. They'll insist on building from the back-- again, that may mean mucho peligro for them. It's unavoidable that the Red Bulls have feasted on NYC when they've done any and all of those things, particularly in the wider confines of RBA. But Vieira isn't changing. He just isn't. That's why we're convinced of a rather strong squad selection. After two years of spectacular USOC failure, the plan can't afford to fail again.
LB Matarrita CB Callens CB Brillant RB Gomez
CM Lopez CM McNamara CAM Moralez
LW Lewis CF Villa RW Camargo
Tied 1-1 after 90. McNamara slams home the winner for NYCFC in the 109th minute, maybe. 2-1?
Follow Sam Dunn on Twitter and find OaM's thoughts on RBNY over at Hudson River Blue.
Three questions about New York City FC with Hudson River Blue: 2017 US Open Cup edition
HRB's Sam Dunn is answering our questions this week.