New York City FC and Atlanta United meet at Yankee Stadium on Sunday with both teams looking for a return to winning ways.
Reigning MLS Cup champions NYCFC head into the clash off the back of a frantic 4-4 draw with FC Cincinnati in midweek.
The Cityzens found themselves 3-0 down within 30 minutes at TQL Stadium, only to draw level by halftime and even take the lead just after the break, though they couldn’t see it through until the end.
All of that is without mentioning Maxi Moralez missing a penalty and FC Cincinnati seeing two goals disallowed.
For Atlanta United, this is their second game in the Big Apple this week. The Five Stripes put in a strong performance in the opening 75 minutes against the New York Red Bulls, taking the lead through Josef Martinez – the club’s first-ever goal at Red Bull Arena.
But as they have done throughout this season, Atlanta pressed the self-destruct button and conceded two goals in the final 10 minutes, losing 2-1 and falling five points adrift of the MLS Cup Playoff spots.
Sunday’s match is critically important for both, so read on to find out how you can watch live, as well as keeping up with team news.
When is kick-off? Sunday, 3 July, 5:00pm (EST)
Where is it being played? Yankee Stadium, New York City
What TV channel is it on? Bally Sports South, ESPN+
Highlights? Major League Soccer YouTube channel
Taty Castellanos missed the trip to Cincinnati through illness but has returned to training and could come back into the starting XI here. Brazilian striker Heber may have something to say about that, though, after scoring twice in his absence.
Santiago Rodriguez comes back from suspension, but Thiago Martins is still recovering from a lower-body injury and Keaton Parks is out long-term after surgery. Maxime Chanot had a nasty collision with the goalposts against Cincinnati, leaving Nick Cushing very short at center-back.
NYCFC predicted XI: Johnson; Amundsen, Callens, Tinnerholm, Gray; Acevedo, Morales; Magno, Moralez, Rodriguez; Castellanos.
Josef Martinez came off the bench to score against the Red Bulls earlier this week and should return to the starting XI here. Marcelino Moreno should also start after being rested right until the end of that match.
The Five Stripes still have chronic injury concerns with Brooks Lennon, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Guzan, Miles Robison, and Dylan Castanheira all out long-term. Ronald Hernandez is closer to returning but won’t be available here, though Santiago Sosa has been training and could feature.
Fellow Argentine midfielder Franco Ibarra is suspended.
The return of Thiago Almada from suspension is a huge boost to Gonzalo Pineda.
Atlanta United predicted XI: Rios Novo; McFadden, Franco, Campbell, Wiley; Hyndman, Rossetto; Araujo, Almada, Moreno; Martinez.
NYCFC and Atlanta United have met 11 times in competitive action previously, with each side sharing four wins each and three daws.
It’s NYC who have enjoyed the better recent record, beating the Five Stripes in the MLS Cup Playoffs last year to extend their unbeaten run to four games against Sunday’s opponent.
This run comes after a three-game winning streak for Atlanta United against NYCFC.
NYCFC have failed to win in four games under interim head coach Nick Cushing following the departure of Ronny Deila to Belgian club Standard Liege.
That said, they’ll remain heavy favorites here, not least because Atlanta United are enduring a run of just one win in their last six games across all competitions.
Gonzalo Pineda’s side have picked up just four points on the road this season, while NYCFC boast the best home record in the East with 20 points from nine matches.
All signs point in one direction.
Prediction: NYCFC 3-1 Atlanta United