Looking at the standings, it's clear New York City FC isn't the strongest team in the league. Still NYCFC heads to Frisco on Saturday with some elite players who could play spoiler to an FC Dallas team looking to make a push toward the Supporters Shield.
NYCFC is a big mix between some of the sport's biggest names and some of the sport's biggest "Who is that again?" However, never underestimate this team and its 4-5-1 formation.
GK: Josh Saunders; LB: Angelino; CB: Shay Facey, Jefferson Mena; RB: R.J. Allen; LM: Thomas McNamara; CM: Andrea Pirlo, Andrew Jacobson; RM: Mix Diskerud; CAM: Frank Lampard; F: David Villa
Matt Hedges vs. Villa - Hedges had a remarkable match against Columbus Crew SC that saw him get the MLS Team of the Week nod. He was accredited with 10 clearances and seven interceptions to help preserve Homegrown goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez's second shutout. Hedges will have a tougher striker to contain than he saw from a Kamara-less Crew side last week. Villa has netted 15 goals for his side alongside seven assists.
Keys to Three Points
Break down the defense. NYCFC's offense has the ability to turn some heads, but it doesn't take long for its defense to make those heads cringe and turn back the other way. FC Dallas has too strong of an offense not to tally a handful of goals at Toyota Stadium. The Columbian wings - Michael Barrios and Fabian Castillo - have to do what they do best and exploit the wings with their speed.
Defend the full 90. FC Dallas doesn't need to sit back and counter the way the team did against the Crew this past Sunday, but it might not hurt to do it in the last 15 minutes against New York. Villa and his teammates like to be dangerous late, scoring 14 of its 38 goals this season after the 75th minute. Alike to NYCFC though, FCD has conceded its most goals during this 15-minute interval. Maybe Barrios can have another 50-yard counter?
Master the midfield. Games are won and lost in the midfield, and even with Diaz most likely not starting, FCD will still have to set the pace, tempo and control of the game in the midfield. The all-homegrown midfield fared well last week with substitutions and adjustments solidifying the win in the second half. Victor Ulloa and Kellyn Acosta will have a tougher central midfield to play against in Lampard and Pirlo. Castillo and Diskerud will have a fun contest on the same side.