The themes for New York City FC’s 2-0 win Saturday against the Red Bulls, written on the white board and voiced by head coach Patrick Vieira, were “sacrifice” and “desire.”
For Thursday’s first-ever matchup against expansion Minnesota United FC, the theme revolves around those first two, but adds another aspect: intensity.
“The challenge is to see if we can play two games with the same intensity in a row,” Vieira told reporters. “If we don’t have the same concentration and focus that we had against Red Bulls, we will not have any chance of winning against Minnesota.”
With a win Thursday, NYCFC (9-5-3, 30 points) can match their longest win streak in club history at four matches.
However, they’ll be without a few familiar faces. Goalkeeper Eirik Johansen is expected to make his first start of the regular season as Sean Johnson is on international duty, training with the USMNT for the upcoming Gold Cup. Midfielder Maxi Moralez is still out with a calf injury suffered in the U.S. Open Cup loss to the Red Bulls two weeks ago.
Despite missing two key parts of the club’s success this season, Vieira remains confident in his club’s depth.
“We have players on the bench who are challenging the ones who start.” Vieira said. “I’m really pleased that the players are working hard and waiting for their opportunities and then they take it.”
Minnesota (5-9-3, 18) limps into the Bronx with slight momentum and several injuries. They clawed back from a two-goal hole to pull a draw against Vancouver on Saturday, but have seven players listed as out for Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, YES).
The expansion club also is winless (0-6-2) on the road. NYCFC has been fantastic at home, going 5-1-2 at Yankee Stadium.