Keys To The Match | On The Road Again 

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New York City Football Club are back on the road this weekend.

The Boys in Blue face Real Salt Lake on Saturday in a 9:30pm ET kick-off at America First Field.

Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Ford…

Way Out West 

After a three-game home stand, Nick Cushing’s side are back on the road, traveling to Utah to face the Western Conference outfit for the first time this season.

The City Boys are yet to win away from home in 2023 but earned a useful point on our last trip away at Orlando City SC.

Looking to build on Saturday’s draw with New England Revolution, New York will have sights set on what would be a crucial three points and a potential turning point in the campaign. Mitja Ilenič asserts the squad are desperate to improve fortunes, and are confident of doing so with persistence, positivity and hard work. 

“We are one hundred percent motivated to turn things around in the away games,” he said. “We know we cannot accept only winning at home so we need to turn this around, going away motivated to try to win.

“I think we will turn this around but we need to be patient and work hard every day. When we turn this around, it will be very good for us.”

Real Talk

Saturday’s game marks only the seventh meeting between the two clubs with RSL having edged the series 4-2, though the City Boys recorded impressive triumphs of 4-0 and 6-0 (our joint-biggest win) against the Sandy side, including the last encounter.

The pair have met once per season (apart from the 2020 and 2021 campaigns) with only one road win for either team: a 3-2 victory for The Claret and Cobalt back in 2016.

While home advantage has played a role in previous fixtures, Pablo Mastroeni's men have had mixed fortunes on their own turf this term with 2-4-2 recorded in regular season action, and have shipped the most goals in the West (27).

Salt Lake fell to defeat against LA Galaxy in the last fixture at America First Field – and face the Los Angeles side in a repeat fixture in the U.S. Open Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night – but were victorious in their last league game away at Austin FC, thanks to a Rubio Rubín brace.

With both camps in need of points to climb their respective tables, there’s plenty at stake in this one…

Team News

It is likely Cushing will have to employ another makeshift backline for the visit to Sandy.

With Thiago Martins and Tayvon Gray unavailable against New England, James Sands and Justin Haak were employed in defense. Though Braian Cufré's injury-time red card has been rescinded, Maxime Chanot suspended for this weekend’s game due to yellow card accumulation, and so there will be more changes to come, 

Meanwhile, RSL will welcome back Pablo Ruiz from suspension in their U.S. Open Cup fixture, and top scorer Jefferson Savarino (4) and Marcelo Silva are also expected to return after missing the Austin clash.

Goalkeeper Zac MacMath was also absent for the past two games due to concussion protocol.

Head Coach Cushing will share an update on the NYCFC squad, and his thoughts on the game, in a press conference on Thursday afternoon…

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