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Leagues Cup – NYCFC vs RBNY: Preview and 5 Questions

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May 13, 2023; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; New York City FC defender Maxime Chanot (4) battles for a high ball against New York Red Bulls forward Cory Burke (7) in front of midfielder Keaton Parks (55) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York City Football Club makes it’s second trip to Harrison NJ and Red Bull Arena in just over a week as they play the road team this time around, taking on the New York Red Bulls in the next round of the 2023 Leagues Cup. NYCFC is coming off a huge 5-0 win over Sean Johnson and Toronto FC at RBA last Wednesday, securing a spot in the round of 32. The team has struggled mightily against RB at RBA, going 1-11-3 in 15 matches. However scoring 5 for the first time since April of last year and having just played there could assist going against history in this single elimination match. As usual, I have questions to toss out there and because I’m weirdly becoming known as (and leaning into being) the numbers guy, I’m going stats heavy here for Twitter, Reddit, etc. And yes, it’s still Twitter, not X:

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1) Can They Get The Ball In The Net? As mentioned, the team is 1-11-3 in 15 matches against RBNY at RBA. Worse yet, the team is outscored 27-6 and have been shut out 9 times (and scoring just 1 in the other 6). The saving grace, that 1 win came last year. It seems odd to say, but scoring twice would be a first. The addition of Mounsef Bakrar has certainly given fans some offensive hope, scoring his first goal last week, I know I’m fired up a bit by his arrival. Speaking of:

Jul 23, 2023; Queens, NY, USA; Atlas FC midfielder Carlos Robles (21) fights for the ball against New York City FC midfielder Mounsef Bakrar (9) during the second half at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2) Is Bakrar An Answer As 9? To me it’s too early to tell, however in just 76 minutes on the pitch (9 in the first game, 67 last week) he’s already had 3 shots on goal. I know the fan base is PLEADING that he’s going to be the answer for an offense that’s tied for 11th in the East with 25 goals. However this will prove challenging because:

3) Is RBNY Sliding in GA? So here’s an curious stat, RBNY’s first 14 MLS matches this season saw them give up just 12 goals (February through June). The last 9 matches, they gave up 14. The team is still 3rd in the East with just 26 goals allowed however that’s a concern for the team that’s only scored 22 goals for the season. In case you’re wondering, Gerhard Struber left the team back on May 8, a month before the stats I mentioned.

4) Can NYCFC Stay Stingy On Their Own GA? The Cityzens have allowed 9 goals in their last 11 overall matches and only twice have given up more than 1 goal since the start of June. Much of it I feel is the team learning to gel after the massive roster turnover last season and players previously being followers turning more into leaders. It’ll be curious to see which goalkeeper we’ll see in net on Thursday, mainstay Luis Barraza or Matt Freese coming off his first NYCFC clean sheet in the blowout win last week. I think it’s 100% a toss up here, however NY fans might be annoyed his baseball team of choice is the Phillies:

5) What Happens After This Match? It’s simple, winner moves on to the Round of 16 on August 7 to face the winner of Philadelphia & DC United at Subaru Park on Thursday. Loser gets back to the MLS season with 2+ weeks of time between matches.

About the author – Scott Churchson has been an actor in every way for the past 13 years, from BG to stand in to stunts and principal, a sports writer for the past 4 and is one of the people that created Stream Punk Entertainment. He’s married to a veterinarian, has a cat with three working legs, a mother-in-law who just moved in and is just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe.

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