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 New York City FC

Keys to the Match: First Time

February 29, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
New York City FC News Release


New York City FC heads to St. Louis City SC this weekend.

The Boys in Blue kick off at 8:30PM ET at CITYPARK.

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

First Time

New York City FC's first trip to St. Louis City SC happens this weekend.

St. Louis joined MLS last season and enjoyed a strong maiden campaign, finishing first in the Eastern Conference and fourth overall. Bradley Carnell's side start the season with back-to-back home games, and they'll be keen to improve upon the 1-1 draw they secured last time out against Real Salt Lake.

Last season, St Louis lost only four home games during the regular season, meaning it will be a challenging trip for Nick Cushing and his players.

Decisions

One of the big things NYCFC pushed for this offseason was depth. The team now has a number of options across each position in the final third, both in terms of players and positional versatility.

That was on show last time out when Hannes Wolf started the game in a central role before shifting wide to accommodate new signing Jovan Mijaotivć on the field. Agustín Ojeda is quickly familiarising himself with his teammates, which only further boosts the options the team has in attack.

Although it presents Cushing with selection headaches for the game, it is a position he is undeniably thankful for.

Tactical Battle

St. Louis City arrived in MLS with a clear identity and vision on how they wanted to play the game of soccer.

Sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel and Head Coach Bradley Carnell wanted the team to be fast, direct, and aggressive. While at times that manifested as a high press, St. Louis isn't afraid to use pressing traps in midfield to catch their opponents out and turn those into counterattacking opportunities.

Speaking ahead of the game, James Sands acknowledged the challenges presented by St. Louis' style but also identified the opportunities that a high-pressing approach presents.

"Those teams are waiting for a mistake, a bad touch, or a bad pass, that's kind of what they live for," Sands said.

"I think St. Louis is similar to Red Bulls in a lot of ways. They kind of let you have the ball and then wait for that one moment where they can steal it and transition [into attack]. I think we've got to be aware of that and be willing to take our chances - stretching their backline and putting the ball in behind them and making them face their own goal."

Carnell is not wedded to one set formation, but his principles will remain the same against NYCFC. That represents a stark contrast to City's style, which means Saturday should represent an interesting tactical battle.

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