The road sometimes can be cruel and NYCFC may soon find out that early season road matches aren’t kind to team standings.  This squad sits in the middle of the MLS table right now and certainly won’t gain any breaks this weekend when they face the red-hot New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium for yet another road match.  We’re only five games into the season and this big challenge could easily set the tone for the rest of the season for NYCFC.

Is NYCFC having a goalkeeper crisis already?

On paper, new starting goalkeeper Luis Barraza isn’t a bad goalie here at the start of the season.  With six goals against, a 1.2 goals-against average and a 57.1% save percentage, Barraza sits in the middle of the MLS goalkeeper pack in terms of his overall statistics.  Losing team captain and franchise anchor Sean Johnson to free agency this year sent shock waves through this organization from the front office to the players on down to the fan base.  Johnson was the emotional  and literal backbone of this team with 206 matches fro NYCFC (a team record.)

Enter backup goalkeeper Luis Barraza.  One player’s choices always seem to open up opportunity for another and Barraza has tried his best to fill that gap left by Johnson’s departure.  Questions have come up as to whether or not backup Matt Freese (acquired from the Philadelphia Union) should be allowed an opporutnity to fight for the starting spot with a chance to start in goal in the next game.  Stay tuned for that possibility – the results of the next match may well determine whether or not Freese gets that chance so early in the season.  Barraza and NYCFC do get back their defensive duo of Maxime Chanot and Mitja Ilenic who have been on international duty this month.

This week’s match will be a critical early-seaon test for NYCFC.

The New England Revolution will be a massive test for NYCFC as they sit on the top of the Eastern Conference table currently with four wins in five matches.  New England hasn’t given up a home goal this season so far and posted shutouts against Houston, Nashville SC and Charlotee FC.  NYCFC pulled out a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire and lost last week in Houston 1-0 in a relatively listless loss.  Questions remain about NYCFC’s possession game plans which haven’t helped turn the tide in any of these early matches.

It’s way too early to call this match as a “make or break” type of situation but the tone for the rest of the season could easily be set with a massive win on the road against one of the top teams in MLS right now.  Another road loss could spell trouble for NYCFC and drop them further back in the standings in a packed Eastern Conference.

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