Major Keys: Can NYCFC Maintain Home Form?

Major Keys Montreal

NYCFC’s third MLS encounter of the season is just around the corner.

Montreal Impact visit Yankee Stadium at 2pm on Saturday afternoon but where will the game be won and lost? Managing Editor Mark Booth picks out five keys to the match…

Major Keys: Can NYCFC Maintain Home Form? -

1. Respecting the Game

Despite the emphatic nature of our win over DC last week, Head Coach Patrick Vieira wasn’t completely satisfied with what he saw from his team.

The Frenchman was displeased with the way his team’s intensity dropped off five minutes before the half-time break and for 15 minutes after the interval and felt the home team didn’t “respect the game” as much as they had in the first period.

On that occasion it didn’t matter as Sean Johnson made a couple of crucial saves and NYCFC found the game-clinching fourth goal but such is Vieira’s winning mentality, he always wants to keep his foot to the opposition’s throat.

On another day, DC could have narrowed the deficit and given themselves hope of a comeback and so Patrick will have been impressing the importance of keeping a consistently high level of intensity onto his players this week ahead of Montreal.

2. Change a Winning Team?

Our last recital on the Etihad Pitch couldn’t have gone any more to plan, with NYCFC running out convincing winners but will Patrick decide to shake things up for the visit of Montreal?

He made one change to the XI for the last match, bringing in Ethan White for RJ Allen at right-back but it remains to be seen whether he will reverse that decision on Saturday.

Elsewhere, the likes of Yangel Herrera, Jonathan Lewis, Khiry Shelton and Tommy McNamara will be hoping they’ve done enough to earn a spot with their training performances in the week.

3. Defend the Castle

In Regular Season games, NYCFC have an enviable home record.

That home field advantage has been a key contributor to our recent form after a stuttering start at Yankee Stadium in 2016.

It took NYCFC six attempts to win at home last season but our record since our defeat to Real Salt Lake in June last year has been far more pleasing on the eye.

Vieira’s men haven’t been defeated in the Bronx in a Regular Season game for nine months, winning eight of our last nine (1D), averaging 3.1 goals per match in that run.

4. Keeping Things Tight

Key to NYCFC’s encouraging start to the campaign has been the protection Johnson has been afforded in our games to date.

Orlando scored from their only shot on target in Florida and DC only managed to test our goalkeeper with meaningful attempts twice in our victory last weekend and Vieira attributes this to the whole team defending as one, from the forwards right through to the back four.

NYCFC have only allowed an average of 2.5 shots on target per game so far – a dramatic reduction from the 4.8 of 2016 and the 5.7 in 2017.

On the other side of the argument, Montreal have conceded at least one goal in nine of their last 12 away games.

5. Piatti Problems

Patrick and Jonathan Lewis have both mentioned Montreal forward Ignacio Piatti in the buildup to this game.

Although it would be dangerous to concentrate solely on the focal point of a lot of Montreal’s most dangerous attacks, he’s a man feared in the league for good reason.

Piatti has scored three of the last five Impact goals against NYCFC and leads the league in dribbles completed with nine so far this season.

NYCFC may have the Argentine to thank in some degree for Maxi Moralez’s move in the offseason, as our new DP contacted his Montreal counterpart when deliberating over the switch.

The pair hold each other in high esteem too, having crossed paths before on opposing sides in Argentina and Italy.

Piatti told “Maxi is an excellent player. He played in Italy for several years. He’ll bring a lot of quality to New York City’s play. And more than anything, he’ll help David [Villa] a great deal.

“He’ll play close to him up front and help him score goals. He makes the difference in the opposition half. We have to prepare well before we face him.”

Major Keys: Can NYCFC Maintain Home Form? -
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