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New York City FC enter New England visit as top team in MLS

Perfect through three games, NYCFC is showing it can win with defense and without relying on David Villa.

New York City FC is riding high with three wins in as many games, good for the most points in MLS.

To keep the winning times rolling, all NYCFC needs to do is more of the same — mixing, matching and getting production out of every person tasked with a new role to fill — when the club visits the New England Revolution (1-1-0, 3 points) on Saturday.

The Blues have scored two goals in each game they have played and allowed only one total. While reeling off scoring stretches like this may draw the most outside attention, it’s the back line that has carried the team on its shoulders.

Keeper Sean Johnson has seen 11 shots on goal all season, almost half of what the league’s leader has dealt with. That’s a testament to what is happening in front of him. Anton Tinnerholm has been an early all-around boost on both ends, but even when he missed the last game, the defense didn’t falter. Saad Abdul-Salaam made his NYCFC debut in his place. It was an ideal time to get acclimated, as Ronald Matarrita suffered a hamstring injury and could miss significant time.

Despite having to make adjustments, the clean sheet prevailed. It proved once again that an offseason focused on improving depth has paid off, and it could put worried minds to rest early.

The offensive side hasn’t missed a beat either, even on Saturday when David Villa sat with a calf injury. The captain hasn’t trained so far this week, according to reports. But, unlike past years, his absence isn’t slowing down this group. Another fresh face, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, made his starting 11 debut and netted his first goal.

Continued production out of players like Tajouri-Shradi, alongside stifling defense, can provide a tough test against New England this weekend.

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