New York City FC are coming on down to RFK this Mother's Day, and we're feeling pretty good about D.C. United's chances. Our predictions are below, but let us know in the comments if you're feeling just as confident—or if we've all just talked ourselves into something that's totally not going to happen.
There are times where NYCFC click on all cylinders and they make you wonder openly why they are only struggling to be mid-table in the Eastern Conference. My gut says Sunday is a drag-em-out affair where the Black-and-Red dictates the tempo on a muggy Mother's Day evening. David Villa notches a goal, but after that NYC struggles to maintain a fast start. Acosta feeds Saborio for one and NDL parks another one as DCU give the moms in the stands a nice gift, 2-1.
The Pigeons (as we may now be calling them?) are tied on points with United and have scored about 20% more goals per game while allowing more than 35% more goals than the Black-and-Red. I don't really know what to read from that, either, but given that NYC have allowed multiple goals in more than half their games and have among the worst GA numbers in the league, I think we'll see our home side get past Josh Saunders at least twice. Let's call it another multi-goal win, with Lamar Neagle and Luciano Acosta finding the net in the first half, on either side of a Thomas McNamara tally, before Saborio scores on a late counter to provide the final margin. 3-1 good guys.
Let's throw a bunch of superstars together and crowd them onto a tiny field and just see what happens. This is the NYCFC philosophy, and it works about half the time. Of course, this weekend, the tiny field element is lost at RFK. And if the NYCFC defense can't fill the holes to stop the goals on a field the size of a 7-Eleven parking lot, how will they stop the Black and Red from slipping through to score? I predict Acosta gets a goal, and Nyarko. DC United 2, NYCFC 1.
Really this boils down to whether D.C. United can keep a lid on David Villa. In New York in August last year, Villa amassed 5 shots on goal on 6 shots, scored a goal, and added an assist in a 3-1 New York win. In October at RFK, he was 1 for 5 on shots with no goals and no assists in a 2-1 DCU win. Was United's success because it was played on a larger field? Was it because it was a home game? Was it seeing Villa for a second time? Maybe it was a little of each of those things, so it's a good thing this one is at RFK. 2-1 United. Give me Saborio and Nyarko offsetting Tommy McNamara.
NYCFC is a bizarre team, but they are a team coming off of a win. They also have some extremely dangerous players in David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. I am loathe to predict a win because of that talent, and the bum luck United has had recently, so I'm going to go with another 1-1 draw.
Coming off a 4 game in 2 week stretch where the only game they did NOT give up at least two goals was to a Montreal Impact team on similar short rest, NYC's defense is kinda bad at the moment. This is a game where D.C. needs to do to things:
I think they do both, winning 2-1 (Patrick Nyarko and Lamar Neagle with the goals, Acosta assisting on at least one) before NYCFC makes it close.
- Start Luciano Acosta against this strange defense.
- Win somewhat comfortably.
NYCFC can't defend even on their boxing ring of a field. Against United on a legitimate playing surface, they will struggle. Alvaro Saborio will put the Black-and-Red up before halftime with a textbook header, and Lucho Acosta will set Lamar Neagle up for a second early in the second half. David Villa will pull one back, but United will finish strong, bagging a third via Miguel Aguilar. 3-1 DCU.
Goals, I'm feeling goals. NYCFC have been letting in quite a few goals so far this season, and United are showing that they just might be capable of scoring a few of their own. An early Neagle goal gives way to a David Villa equalizer before halftime, and the second half sees three more goals—one from Acosta to pull the home side back in front, another from Villa, and finally a late one from Saborio to get the win for the good guys. That's 3-2 and three points for the Black-and-Red.
Let us know your predictions in the comments.