Major Keys: Who Returns for Timbers Test?

Major Keys Portland Timbers

What could be sweeter than a double home game week?

New York City FC returns to Yankee Stadium for the second time in three days on Saturday when Portland Timbers are the visitors.

Get yourself primed with Managing Editor Mark Booth’s Major Keys to the Match…

Quick Turnaround

NYCFC showed their powers of resilience in Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over Sporting KC.

Absorbing the setback of a depleted squad, Patrick Vieira’s men deservedly overcame one of the Western Conference’s best teams thanks to Jack Harrison’s 85th minute winning goal.

By contrast, Portland Timbers have had two weeks to prepare for this game since their 1-1 Rivalry Week tie with the Seattle Sounders.

All of that time on the training field and their look at our midweek victory could be seen as a competitive advantage for the visitors but there’s nothing better than playing and winning for confidence going into one of the biggest games of the Regular Season.

Add in the possibility of some timely reinforcements in the Blue corner (more on them below) and this one is beautifully poised.

READ:Five Things We Learned from NYCFC 1-0 Sporting Kansas City

Returning Heroes?

Nine players were missing from the win over Sporting KC but Vieira might find he has more of his squad to play with on Saturday, with Alex Ring and David Villa listed as "questionable" on the Injury Report, while Rodney Wallace is back from suspension.

Regardless of how many of Wednesday's absent nine are available, the KC win did prove that Vieira has a deep squad to call upon, with the likes of RJ Allen, Tommy McNamara, Sean Okoli and Andrea Pirlo all putting in excellent performances.

Most pleasingly for the Head Coach, the collective produced a showing that was consistent to the overarching style of play the Frenchman has implemented, meaning no matter who plays we can be sure of the same aesthetic, the same character and the same quality we’ve come to expect from NYCFC.

Jack in the Box

Harrison’s late winner vs. SKC was a significant one in the all-time team goalscoring standings.

His 13th goal for the club moved Jack past McNamara as he became NYCFC’s third top scorer in history.

Two goals behind Frank Lampard in second, Harrison has been a regular contributor on the scoreboard in 2017 and is certainly suffering no Sophomore slump in his second season on the team.

Since he joined in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, NYCFC averages 0.7 more points, scores 0.3 more goals and wins 57.1% of games (as opposed to 27.8%) when Harrison starts as opposed to when he doesn’t.

He also broke a record set by Kwadwo Poku in 2016 on Wednesday night, completing the most dribbles by an NYCFC player in a single season (47), breaking the previous record by seven.

READ:In Quotes – NYCFC 1-0 Sporting Kansas City

Form Guide

NYCFC took their unbeaten streak to five Regular Season games on Wednesday and made it ten without defeat in the Bronx.

While they’re facing off against a Portland Timbers side with aspirations of topping the Western Conference, road wins have been hard to come by for Caleb Porter in 2017.

The Oregon outfit have only won once in their last 11 MLS road games (6L-4D), dating back to April 29th and they’ve conceded goals in all of these games.

That said, in the two previous meetings between these teams, the road team has always gone home with all of the points…

Hopefully, this particular streak comes to an end on Saturday.

Hispanic Heritage Night

From September 15 to October 15, the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and we’ll be marking it in style on Saturday night.

The observation recognizes the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The Hispanic contingent of our fanbase always bring the noise but they might just have a little extra on Saturday evening… all the more reason to come along and support your Boys in Blue.

Get your tickets below, learn the words to “Vamos, Celeste!” and we’ll see you there!

READ:La Historia – Rodney Wallace

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