Major Keys: Friday Night Lights

Major Keys Houston Dynamo

New York City FC is down in Texas preparing to take on Wilmer Cabrera’s Houston Dynamo on Friday night.

Here’s Mark Booth with the Major Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford

Road Warriors

NYCFC are unbeaten through three meetings with The Dynamo, winning one and drawing two but it’s been four games since City won on the road.

While the draws vs. Atlanta United and LAFC were creditable results given the form of our hosts, Patrick Vieira’s men are traditionally strong when it comes to earning points on hostile ground, so will be eager to put up a third road win of the campaign.

It won’t be easy… Houston are currently ranked sixth in the West and have won three of their last five games at the BBVA Compass Stadium.

Pura Vida

This will be your final chance to see our resident Ticos Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace before they depart to Costa Rica basecamp ahead of their FIFA World Cup adventures.

While we’ll miss both, on and off the field, it’s a proud moment for the club as we wave off the first NYCFC players to ever take their place on soccer’s greatest stage.

Good luck, boys!

WATCH:Ronald Matarrita on his FIFA World Cup Dream

Pass Masters

Next, a stat that will come as no surprise to those who’ve watched NYCFC in action over the past three seasons under Vieira.

No team in MLS has made as many passes as City’s 6840 which is approximately 2000 more than Friday night’s hosts have attempted in their ten games but Houston are keeping the ball more in 2018 than in previous years.

Cabrera’s side had the second lowest average possession count at home in the league last year with 44.3% but that’s increased substantially in 2018 to 50.6%, meaning we could be in for an attractive spectacle between two teams who want to keep the ball this time around.

Isi Gonna Score?

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi has become an instant hero with the NYCFC faithful since signing in the offseason.

With five goals in just 456 on-field minutes, Isi averages a goal every 91 minutes which is the third-best rate of any player with at least five goals.

Tajouri-Shradi didn’t score but was influential once again in the 4-0 win over the Rapids last weekend and could be an option for Vieira on his first trip to Texas.

Flying Starts

Keeping things tight early on could be crucial if New York are to win in Houston for the second time.

Houston lead MLS for first half goals in 2018 (13), while NYCFC are tied for the third-most goals conceded in the first 45s of matches played so far this season.

That said, we have only scored two fewer first half goals than Houston (11), so we’ve been known to get off to flying starts ourselves.

Basically, make sure you’re tuned in for the first whistle of this one.

WATCH:Chairman’s Interview – Khaldoon Al Mubarak on NYCFC

Danger Man?

One player NYCFC will have to keep a close eye on is Alberth Elis.

The Honduran forward scored a brace in Houston’s 3-2 win over Chicago which took him to six goals in his last nine Regular Season appearances.

Maxime Chanot missed last weekend’s game vs. the Rapids but is expected to be back in the mix this weekend. Will he return to the XI to help deny Elis, or will Sebastien Ibeagha continue to partner Alexander Callens, who is in line for his 50th NYCFC appearance?

You’ll have to wait until approximately 8pm on Friday night to find out!

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