New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila called for his side to match the intensity of San Jose Earthquakes when the pair meet in MLS.
The Pigeons edged out Toronto FC 5-4 last time out to make it two games unbeaten, with New York currently occupying seventh place in the Eastern Conference after 10 matches.
Deila knows the Quakes will pose a tough task at home on Sunday, and implored the Pigeons to mirror the determination of their opponents.
“Obviously it’s a bit difficult but they haven’t been so different from what they were before,” Deila said of the team’s tactical approach under interim coach Alex Covelo.
“I’ve seen their last game when they beat Seattle – they’re a very good, aggressive team. There are a lot of legs in the team, they’re aggressive in pressing.
“They press man against man almost all over the pitch, and maybe there will be some changes to that, but this is going be a totally different game than we had against Real Salt Lake and Toronto.
“We have to match that intensity, we have to match that fight if we’re going to get three points.”
Covelo took charge of San Jose following the departure of Matias Almeyda, defeating Seattle Sounders 4-3 in their last MLS outings, and the interim coach believes his side can take confidence from that win.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that New York City FC and Seattle Sounders FC are very good teams,” he said.
“That’s why they were fighting for the Concacaf (Champions League) Final. We have a big game to play on Sunday, and we will try to address it tactically as best as we can.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
New York City FC – Valentin Castellanos
Valentin Castellanos starred against Toronto, scoring his fifth goal in his last two games as he continues to lead the way for the Pigeons.
San Jose Earthquakes – Cristian Espinoza
Cristian Espinoza became the sixth Argentine to score an MLS hat-trick with his treble against the Sounders, he will be hoping to replicate that form in New York.
KEY OPTA FACTS
·New York City FC has won four of its five meetings with San Jose (D1), including the last three in a row. All four wins, including all three games at home, have been won by a one-goal margin.
·New York City FC’s 5-4 win over Toronto FC on Sunday was just the 20th match in MLS history to feature at least nine combined goals. It was the first time there were nine goals scored in a match involving NYCFC.
·The Earthquakes ended their winless start to the season by coming back from 3-1 down to beat Seattle, 4-3, on Saturday. This is the third straight season that San Jose has won a match it trailed by two goals, also doing so against Austin in 2021 and Vancouver in 2020. No other team has more than one such game since the start of 2020.
·New York City FC followed up its six-goal performance against Real Salt Lake with five goals against Toronto on Sunday. It marked just the sixth time in MLS history that a team scored 11 goals over a two-match span and the first since Los Angeles FC did so in July 2019.
·Cristian Esponiza’s hat-trick for the Earthquakes on Saturday made him the sixth Argentinian to score at least three goals in an MLS match. Only the United States (49) and Colombia (8) have more players with a hat-trick in MLS play (including playoffs).