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Scouting Report: Taming the mighty Pigeons

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The Sounders will face a NYCFC team that has been sneaky good.

MLS: New York City FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

What You’ll Watch

Coming off their first win in six weeks, the Seattle Sounders hit the road once again. This time they head to New York to take on New York City FC. This will be the lone regular season meeting between the two clubs.

NYCFC currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-1-8 (26 points in 15 games played; 1.73 ppg), while the Sounders remain in third place in the Western Conference with a record of 8-4-5 (29 points in 17 games played; 1.71 ppg). Last time out, the Sounders defeated Vancouver 1-0 and New York City defeated Philadelphia 4-2.

This will be just the fifth all-time regular season meeting between the two clubs. The series is tied 2-2 with Seattle scoring seven goals and conceding six. In New York, the Sounders are 1-1 with four goals scored and three conceded.

Tale of the Tape

Seattle

Last Five: D-L-L-L-W

Leading Goal Scorer: Raúl Ruidíaz, six goals

Assist Leader: Nicolas Lodeiro, eight assists

New York City FC

Last Five: W-D-D-W-W

Leading Goal Scorer: Héber, six goals

Assist Leader: Maxi Moralez, 11 assists

Injury Report, Suspensions and International Duty

New York City FC

Out: Héber (hamstring), Tony Rocha (hamstring), James Sands (arm), Joe Scally (hip)

Questionable:

Suspensions: N/A

International Duty: Sean Johnson (USA) and Alexander Callens (PER)

Seattle

Out: Will Bruin (right ACL tear)

Questionable: Victor Rodríguez (left hamstring strain)

Suspensions: N/A

International Duty: Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan (USA) and Raúl Ruidíaz (PER)

Match Officials

REFEREE: Rubiel Vazquez

AR1: Logan Brown

AR2: Jose da Silva

4th: Lorant Varga

VAR: Guido Gonzales, Jr.

AVAR: Thomas Supple

What to Watch

  • Quick, guess which team in MLS has the fewest losses. Did you say NYCFC? OK, maybe you figured that one out based on who this about, but that’s still kinda surprising, right? The reason you may have been caught off guard by that stat is that despite the one loss, they’re still just sixth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-1-8. Those eight ties are a big reason they’re still relatively low, but even that is a little deceiving since they have the best Points Per Game in the East and second best in the league. With just 15 matches under their belt, they’ve played fewer matches than everyone else — at least two fewer than every other team in the East and four fewer than East-leading Philadelphia. Suffice to say, they’re probably a bit tougher than a quick glance at the standings might suggest.
  • The Pigeons, as they are affectionately known, are particularly hard to beat home, where they are 3-0-4. That includes a 4-2 win over the Union on Saturday, a game in which they trailed twice, then twice equalized following questionable penalty decisions before storming ahead with a pair of goals after the 70th minute.
  • Make no mistake, the Pigeons are a talented group and their 11-game unbeaten streak is no accident. Much of what they do goes through Maxi Moralez, who has five goals and a league-leading 11 assists. Two of those goals came from the penalty spot last week, but he’s plenty dangerous from the open play. Moralez averages 3.3 key passes and 2.1 shots per game. The addition of Brazilian forward Heber also has supercharged their offense, as he’s scored six goals in a little more than 700 minutes. Valentin Castellanos has made the most of his limited opportunities, including a brace last week which put him at five goals in less than 650 minutes. Like their other primary attackers, Alexandru Mitrita may be slight in size but has a huge impact. The Romanian has just four goals and an assist, but he’s averaging 2.8 dribbles per game and is a handful.
  • Heber, though, is expected to miss this game with a hamstring injury. Castellanos started in his place last match and was very good, drawing both penalties in addition to scoring two goals. Torrent shifted into a 5-4-1 for the Union game, but that’s only a slight change from the 3-4-3 they’ve been using during much of their unbeaten run. But it’s also fair to wonder if Torrent will feel inclined to rotate his lineup as they’ve got another game on Sunday.

How to Watch

Date/Time: Wednesday, July 3 @ 4:00 PM PT

Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY

TV: JOEtv

Streaming: YouTube TV, ESPN+ (out of market, affiliate link)

Radio: 950 KJR AM (English), El Rey 1360AM (Spanish)

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