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New York City FC hopes to solve road struggles against Los Angeles FC

All four of NYCFC’s non-wins this season have come away from Yankee Stadium.

Sean Johnson and New York City FC suffered

Sean Johnson and New York City FC suffered their second loss of 2017 last week. Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato

The stellar play that New York City FC exhibited in the first two months of the season has slowed in recent weeks, and another challenge looms in a new place.

NYCFC heads west on Sunday to take on expansion Los Angeles FC. The match will be an opportunity to buck a trend that has developed — NYCFC’s four non-wins have come on the road.

“If I had the chance to change all the 10 players on the field, I was going to do it at half time,” head coach Patrick Vieira said after NYFC’s 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls last Saturday.

Sounding the alarms on a team that has lost only two games would be premature, partly because a turnaround in Los Angeles can provide a quick wake up call. LAFC sits in second in the Western Conference with a 6-2-1, 19-point record. If NYCFC (6-2-2, 20 points) has designs on a deep playoff run, it will have to prove it can beat the best teams in unforgiving environments.

“I don’t doubt that we’ll have a response to this game come next weekend,” keeper Sean Johnson said.

Despite letting four of six shots on goal to get past him in Harrison, New Jersey, Sean Johnson has been a steady presence in the net for NYCFC. He’s ranked third in MLS with 36 saves and can provide an anchor while the offense finds its step again.

LAFC, on the other hand, is looking for new faces to step in. Marco Urena, one of LAFC’s assists leaders, had surgery for an injury suffered April 29. Since then, the new club has a win and a draw. It’ll be relying heavily on Diego Rossi, who has four goals and five assists, and Carlos Vela, who has five goals.

Those players will be facing a visiting Blues team looking to get back on track.

“We’ve obviously done some good things this year but by no means can we take our foot off the gas pedal,” Johnson said.

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