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Atlanta United at NYCFC: Three Questions

with SB Nation’s Hudson River Blue

MLS: New York City FC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

To get everyone ready for Saturday’s match against NYCFC, we spoke with Hudson River Blue’s Christian Smith to get his take on Patrick Vieira’s reported departure, their struggles against the New York Red Bulls, and their players with World Cup duties.

DSS: Is there any truth to these Patrick Vieira to Nice reports? What do you think NYC would do to replace him if he does move on?

HRB: At this point, it does appear that Saturday’s matchup will be Patrick Vieira’s last with NYCFC. The Nice rumors have really intensified and the most recent reports out of France indicate that a deal is already done. I wish I knew how the club plans to replace him, but I honestly don’t know. Speculation seems to indicate that assistant coach Christian Lattanzio takes over in the interim, but I’ve also heard names like Mikel Arteta or Medhi Ballouchy when it comes to who will take over permanently. It’s anyone’s guess at this point.

DSS: The other New York team once again got the better of NYC during their U.S. Open Cup matchup. What makes NYRB such a difficult team for NYC to play against?

HRB: Their high press and our inability/stubbornness to do anything about it. NYCFC’s philosophy is to build out of the back, and the most effective way to counter that is to press high, something the Red Bulls do as a lifestyle. I also believe that NYRB takes the derby more seriously. We have come into both games thus far this year with no intensity to speak of, whereas the Red Bulls come out wanting to punch us in the mouth. Both games have been the result of conceding too early and chasing the game instead of dictating the pace, something we did against them all year last season. There is no semblance of that whatsoever thus far in 2018.

DSS: You’ll be missing Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace for the next few weeks as they focus on their World Cup duties for Costa Rica. What impact will their absence have on the team?

HRB: The absence of Ronald Matarrita will definitely be felt as he is an impact player, both as a starter and coming off the bench. Rodney Wallace is a different story. Though he started out well enough last season, he has yet to score a goal or make any significant impact on a game since we beat Atlanta at Yankee Stadium last year. It sounds a bit cold, but I think most fans see his absence as a way for youngster Jonathan Lewis to ascend the depth chart.