Saturday represents a measuring stick for New York City FC, who pieced together a thorough 5-0 win at home over FC Cincinnati last weekend.
And with all due respect to their opponent a week ago, this Saturday at the Philadelphia Union should be a taller task. It is a measuring stick for this club’s progress so far this year.
While the Union are likely to rotate a significant portion of their Starting XI on Saturday with a CONCACAF Champions League fixture next week, the squad is still a difficult one for New York City FC and head coach Ronny Deila. The Union are a pressing and counter-pressing team, which can be a significant challenge for a club like NYCFC that does favor building-up out of their back four.
“To say that it is easy, as I can remember they played Nashville 2-2 the week before so it can’t be so easy,” Deila told reporters this week during availability.
“How many teams win 5-0? We had a very good performance, it was very even in the first half – even in chances, even in possession – we maybe had a bit more but we kept discipline, we improved ourselves more in the second half.
“In the [second half], they opened and we get more chances then you normally get. Having said that, we created 10 big goal chances in a game – I have to look but I don’t think you see many other teams in MLS do that this season. I’m very, very happy with the performance, we know that we do the basic things good, we work as a team as we did now, we stay disciplined through 90 minutes. We are a really competitive and good team. There’s a small difference in between the teams in MLS so whoever we play, we have to be prepared and tight tactically because people play a different way.”
The Union impressed Tuesday at Atlanta United in the first leg of their Champions League match, winning 3-0. While they were outplayed, their clinical finishing coupled with several big saves from goalkeeper Andre Blake were instrumental in taking a commanding lead in the series.
It has been an impressive run through the tournament for last year’s top regular season team in MLS. This year represents their first ever time in the continental competition.
With a win last week, New York City FC (1-0-1, 3 points) bounced back from a season opening loss at DC United where they outplayed their hosts for long stretches of the match. The Union have yet to win this season (0-1-1), opening the season with a tie at the Columbus Crew and losing last week in their season opener to Inter Miami.