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RSL vs. NYCFC — three questions with Hudson River Blue

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Real host NYCFC and our friends at Hudson River Blue provide some insight into our opponent

MLS: Real Salt Lake at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake host New York City FC tomorrow night at Rio Tinto Stadium. NYCFC has undergone a good bit of change in the last year or so, but they’re still a strong side. They sit in 4th in the eastern conference, are 4 points behind conference leaders Philadelphia Union, but have a staggering 4 games in hand. They’re averaging 1.75 points per game, second only to LAFC. Our friends at Hudson River Blue gave us some insight into the team:

NYCFC had a slow start to their season, but around game 7 they started to improve. What caused that start and what did the team do to improve? How would you rate their season so far?

I think it was the shift from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3/5-3-2. It allowed fullbacks Ronald Matarrita and Anton Tinnerholm to get into advanced positions and contribute more to the attack. The 4-3-3 is still a very important tactic, but it’s no longer just the default go-to. Right now, I’d rate their season at a solid B+. Obviously, we’ve been pretty good for awhile now. But I think there’s even more untapped potential.

NYCFC’s last two wins were against RSL’s two main rivals in the Colorado Rapids and Sporting KC. What did New York City do to get those wins and what would RSL need to do to shut down their attack?

NYCFC did what they do best. Create a ton of chances and overwhelm defenses. If RSL wishes to stand a chance, they have to mark Heber and pray he doesn’t do anything. That’s how good he’s been. If you can somehow silence him, you have a puncher’s chance of walking away with points.

Maxi Moralez came off with an injury in the 52nd minute in NYCFC’s win over Sporting KC. What’s the latest on his health and if he’s unable to play, who replaces him?

Maxi has been cleared for the All-Star game, but it’s been confirmed that he will sit out against RSL due to match congestion. So, it’s not serious. But it will keep him out for this one, which could play right into RSL’s hands seeing as Maxi is by far City’s most important player.