New York City FC look to bounce back vs Portland Timbers

By | April 19, 2015

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This article first appeared in Prost Amerika

Things have gone a little sour for New York City FC, following a promising start to the season.

After earning five points in their first three games, Thursday’s home tie against the Philadelphia Union means that New York has only earned one point out of a possible nine. And like the first game against the Union at PPL Park last week, it was a late goal that sealed another disappointing result.

Thus, while still early in the season, New York will feel a sense of urgency when they host the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

That urgency is likely felt in the team’s medical department, as well, with David Villa’s availability for the game in doubt after he was replaced at the half during Thursday’s game with discomfort in his hamstring. The Spaniard had already been hampered by a recurring adductor strain, which kept him out of NYCFC’s week four clash with Sporting Kansas City, and visibly restricted his mobility in the two games against the Union.

There are also questions about Jason Hernandez. Like Villa, the veteran center-back was subbed off at the half, and didn’t practice with the team in the lead up to Sunday’s game.

The potential absences of both Villa and Hernandez will certainly weigh heavily on Jason Kreis, who is still searching for a formula that will generate some consistency. After addressing the slow first halves that plagued performances, Kreis now has to eliminate the mistakes at the end of games that have cost the team points. Doing so without two of New York’s stalwarts may prove more difficult.

Still, Kreis does have enough reasons to be optimistic. Mix Diskerud is available after returning from international duty with the US national team, as is Javier Calle, who recovered from cramps. Diskerud was sorely missed on Thursday, with New York FC seemingly incapable of creating scoring opportunities even though the team enjoyed the lion’s share of possession. The Colombian will likely figure on the left side of defense once again after adapting well to the position, and contributing to the attack with accurate set-pieces.

Kreis should also be pleased with the contributions of Khiry Shelton and Kwadwo Poku. Shelton’ speed has been a factor in every game he’s played, and only a few inches prevented him from scoring his first goal against Philadelphia, while the Ghanaian’s physicality and drive can translate into a more assertive midfield.

Fortunately for NYCFC, the Timbers arrive in New York with problems of their own. Portland sits dead last in the western conference, and without the injured Diego Valeri looks like a team without direction.

New York’s problems are not as serious as Portland’s, but another bad result could send the club into a minor tailspin.