New York City will host Real Salt Lake for a midweek matchup in the Bronx. The infamous pitch at Yankee Stadium is small, so the teams will have to be particularly precise for this game day.
NYC currently stand in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference table, but there is potential to leapfrog multiple teams with a result in front of their home crowd.
35 year old veteran Josh Saunders will be the goalkeeper for the sky blue side. RSL supporters may recognize the name from the stint he spent in Salt Lake in 2013. Saunders has represented Puerto Rico at the international level and has shown he can be a quality keeper. Unfortunately this season has been rough on Saunders though. After an embarrassing 7-0 drubbing from local rival New York Red Bulls, Saunders is the league leader of goals conceded at 26. The shot stopper will be desperate for a clean sheet this week.
The New York City back line has been a bit of a revolving door in it's early years. The mainstay has been Jason Hernandez, who was selected from San Jose in the 2014 MLS Expansion draft. At 5'10, what Hernandez lacks in height, he makes up for with his heart and grit. The recently capped Puerto Rican international will be joined by Frédéric Brillant central defense. RJ Allen and Ethan White will likely patrol the flanks at the fullback positions.
In the midfield and attack is where New York stars shine brightest. Featuring in the midfield is 2006 World Cup winner Andrea Pirlo. After spending many years with Italy's top clubs, Pirlo begins his first full season in MLS. The cool Italian midfielder will utilize his long range passing to create opportunities for his teammates. Alongside Pirlo will be Norwegian American Mix Diskerud. Mix has had a slow start in MLS and was a regular in the USA team before his move to the concrete jungle of New York City. After his latest snub in the Copa America roster, Diskerud will need to get back to his top form if he wants to stay a part of Klinsmann's plans. Patrolling the last midfield slot if fit enough will likely be Frank Lampard. One of three European Champions League winners donning the NYC crest, the 37 year old Englishman has worked his way back to fitness and will likely feature in Thursday's match. Lampard has had a hard time staying on the field in his MLS career, and will look to get a string of matches under his belt.
The New York City attack will feature a trio of capable players, but none more dangerous than David Villa. The 34 year old Spaniard currently sits atop the MLS goalscoring charts with 9. Villa has hit the ground running ever since he arrived in the Big Apple and still averages better than a goal every other game. After ballooning a penalty kick that may have put last weeks game out of reach, Villa will be looking to capitalize on every chance created in this one. On the left for City will be unsung hero Tommy McNamara. For all the recognition the Designated players of NYC get, among the most productive members of the squad has been McNamara. Chipping in with 3 goals and 4 assists so far on the year, McNamara will be a threat to the RSL defense. The speedy United States youth team member Khiry Shelton will likely start on the right wing to get in behind the Real back four.