New York City FC sits five spots above Columbus Crew SC in the standings with four more points, but it has not been the best start for NYCFC. A team filled with stars has high expectations, but year one saw no postseason and year two is off to a 1-1-3 start.
The Blues enter this game without a win since opening day -- a 4-3 thriller at the Chicago Fire -- and a defense that has conceded as many goals, seven, as the offense has managed to score. Usually that leads to quite a few ties and that's what New York City fans have witnesses so far this year.
On the opposite side, Crew SC has struggled this season which has resulted in no wins in five tries. It's a frustrated fanbase right now in Columbus but Black & Gold fans hope a return home will make the difference after four of the first five matches were on the road.
With the likes of international superstars David Villa and Andrea Pirlo (Frank Lampard remains out injured) coming to town, we thought it necessary to find someone to give us some insight and Chris fit the bill. Enjoy
Questions for The NYCFC Nation
Massive Report: How would you characterize the start of the season for NYCFC? It began with a 4-3 win over the Chicago Fire, but since then New York City is 0-1-3. Are fans content with how the team is getting off the starting block?
NYCFC Nation: In one word: frustrating. Three points out of a possible twelve, all at home is not enough. The team has led in shots and possession for most, if not all of those games and still hasn't been able to find the back of the net consistently. Coach Vieira and a few players have said the performance isn't nearly good enough for them, keep in mind that this is a team who fired their coach last year because he didn't make the playoffs. Fans are growing increasingly frustrated at what seems to be overall poor play at home and are anxiously awaiting news on a NYCFC stadium as it's become evident that playing on the small pitch and shoddy patchwork field of Yankee Stadium is hurting the team more than giving them an advantage.
MR: Head coach Patrick Vieira has introduced some interesting tactics to New York City and MLS. For Crew SC fans who haven't gotten a chance to see, can you tell them about what he's done with formations and such to begin the year?
NYCFCN: He's a big proponent of the 4-3-3 system which we saw employed rather well, aside from our defense, in Chicago. At home he's favored the W-M formation (3-2-2-3), which hasn't been popular in soccer since the 1930's. My understanding is that he prefers the formation at Yankee Stadium because of the smaller dimensions, it also helps Pirlo sit back more and pick out passes to guys like Villa and McNamara. We all assume he'll go back to the 4-3-3 on the road and allow the wingers to spread the field. One thing you'll notice almost immediately is the desire to play the ball out from the keeper. Vieira prefers to play the ball out to the defense and maintain possession rather than lob it up to midfield.
MR: Would you characterize this club as one of the superstar names or are the role players really what drives the bus? Are there any players aside from the obvious that Crew SC fans should keep an eye on Saturday night?
NYCFC: I'd say it's definitely the role players who drive this team, and that's not a shot at Villa or Pirlo who are the two most recognizable names on the team sheet but a credit to what Vieira has managed to do. 36 year old Andrea Pirlo is second on the team in tackles, he's gotten more out of Pirlo defensively than any other manager has in years. With 7 goals from 5 different players the entire team has gotten involved which is needed after relying far too often on Villa last year.
Ronald Matarrita is someone Columbus fans should keep an eye on. The Costa Rican left back leads NYCFC in tackles despite playing in less games due to international commitments. He's very fast, very strong, and can even put a shot in from a good distance out. I expect him to give Finlay and Afful some headaches.
I'd also tell you to keep an eye on Tommy McNamara, the man knows where to be inside the box but can also curl in shots from outside of the box like he's in practice.
To read Massive Report's answers, head over to The NYCFC Nation site.