NYCFC brings unbeaten home mark into match vs. Orlando City

It goes against conventional wisdom somewhat, but it can be argued that New York City FC has been better away from the Bronx than at Yankee Stadium, certainly in Patrick Vieira’s first two years as the club’s coach.

In 2016, NYCFC had one more home win than on the road, with their seven away victories the most in MLS. A year ago, they had the second -best road form in the league just behind Toronto FC.

Through eight games in 2018, though, NYCFC has been downright mediocre on the road with a 2-3-3 mark. They are two points behind Atlanta United FC in the Eastern Conference standings, in large part thanks to a sterling 5-0-0 record at Yankee Stadium.

NYCFC is one of two teams — the Portland Timbers at 4-0-0 is the other — to secure maximum points at home.

In those five wins, NYCFC has outscored the opposition 15-2.

“It’s always nice being home. Our fans are great, they always give us a boost, it’s a difficult place for away teams to come in and play in Yankee Stadium,” midfielder Tommy McNamara said. “But it’s true across the league, teams generally fare better home than away.”

That perfect record at Yankee Stadium will be put to the test Saturday as Orlando City SC (6-5-1) comes to the Bronx looking to snap a three-game losing streak and avenge a 2-0 defeat at Yankee Stadium on March 17.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Maxi Moralez scored 12 minutes apart in the second half to lift NYCFC to that St. Patrick’s Day win.

That game was Sacha Kljestan’s first for the Lions after serving a two-game suspension for a halftime tunnel tussle as a member of the New York Red Bulls in a playoff game at Toronto FC last November.

“They had a tough start of the season because of the injuries they had,” Vieira said. “All the players back now, they are playing well, they are winning games. It will be a different team we faced a few (months) ago.

“It’s going to be important for us to keep playing well. Our record at home is good. We have to keep playing with the same kind of intensity and philosophy.”

In that first meeting with NYCFC, Orlando was also without Dom Dwyer, who returned a week later and his inclusion sparked a franchise-best six-game winning streak. When Dwyer went down with a lower-body injury after a 2-1 loss to Atlanta on May 13, Orlando has lost consecutive games, including 2-1 to the Chicago Fire at home last weekend.

Saturday’s match kicks off four straight away from Orlando City Stadium for the Lions, who are 2-2-0 on the road. They will be without midfielder Yoshi Yotun (Peru) and defender Amro Tarek (Egypt), who joined their clubs for the World Cup.

NYCFC will be without the Costa Rican duo of defender Ronald Matarrita and midfielder Rodney Wallace, who will also be in Russia.

“It’s obviously a very, very good team and we have confidence in what we do,” Kreis said of NYCFC. “We have confidence that we actually feel like we’re an improving team right now. We feel we’re a much better team than we were in that game that we played them prior in the season.”