New York City FC takes on the New England Revolution in the last match of their inaugural season in Major League Soccer. Kick-off is scheduled for 5PM EST at Yankee Stadium.
City and the Revs have split the season series this year, with New York winning in their first ever home match on March 15th, while the Revs took three points from the New Yorkers on July 18th in Foxboro.
NYCFC are coming off a 2-1 loss last week in Orlando, while the Revs lost 1-0 to Montreal last week at home. While New York is officially out of the playoff race entering Decision Day, New England still has yet to clinch a playoff spot, but is in the driver's seat for the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Revs are three points ahead of Orlando City in the standings. A win or draw on Sunday at Yankee Stadium would secure the Revolution a playoff berth, as would an Orlando loss or draw against the Philadelphia Union in Chester. The only way that the Revs could miss the playoffs would be if they were to lose to NYCFC and Orlando were to win over Philadelphia while somehow overturning the current eight-goal gap in goal differential.
All Eastern Conference matchups, with the exception of the match between the New York Red Bulls and the Chicago Fire that has Supporters' Shield implications, will kick off simultaneously.
Despite the fact that the Revs have had a whole month to clinch a playoff spot, they have left the job to the last possible date.
“This week has been all about what it’s going to take to play New York on Sunday and be focused for that game,” said Revs manager Jay Heaps. “We take away good and bad from the past game and use that as motivation and use it as material to get better.”
Even though NYCFC has no chance of making the postseason, midfielder Frank Lampard hopes to give the home supporters a victory on Sunday.
"We have to finish well in front of the home fans. We’re disappointed we did not make the playoffs but all we can do is prepare in the usual way and try and put on a good performance and get a win. "
NYCFC manager Jason Kreis, whose job may be in jeopardy, echoed Lampard's comments.
“I think we head into this match feeling that everything we are trying to do is for our fans. I really feel that the fans have been absolutely terrific all year long. We want to give them something back; we want to put on a terrific performance for them. We are hopeful that we can do that and give them everything we have, walk away with the three points and our heads held high.”
After a disappointing season for the MLS newcomers, NYCFC may have a big shakeup in the offseason.
Both Sports Illustrated and Empire of Soccer have reported that City Football Group are considering firing Kreis, and that Manchester City development coach Patrick Vieira is the lead candidate to take over the helm in the Big Apple.
As Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad head coach, Vieira has previously traveled to New York to see Man City loanees Angelino and Shay Facey play for NYCFC. Kreis also worked with Vieira when Kreis spent a large chunk of 2014 with the Manchester City coaching staff.
Speaking of Angelino and Shay Facey, their futures will be decided next week. Facey has been a regular in a shaky NYCFC defense, while Angelino has shown flashes of brilliant skill.
Javier Calle, on loan from Colombian club Independiente Medellín, will also have his future sorted out. Calle has only played 11 matches this year due to injury, yet NYCFC have the option to purchase him from Independiente.
“The very first week after the season closes, those decisions will be made,” NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis said to Empire of Soccer.
After the turmoil surrounding Frank Lampard's "loan" stay with Manchester City last winter, it seems all three of New York's designated players will not go out on loan. NYCFC are scheduled to regroup in the third week of January for the start of preseason training camp.
“I haven’t given it any thought,” Andrea Pirlo said through a translator. “We’ll still be training until December and then after that, after the vacation, we’ll see.”
Despite rumors of a potential loan to former clubs Barcelona and Valencia, David Villa stated that NYCFC want him to "rest" before next season, ruling out a loan to La Liga.
Finally, the future of young Kwadwo Poku is still in the air. Despite being a fan favorite and NYCFC super-sub, Poku was almost traded to the Philadelphia Union this summer according to Empire of Soccer.
On Thursday afternoon, former USA national team member and Fox Soccer analyst Eric Wynalda wrote on Twitter that up to eight clubs from Europe are in the hunt for Poku. Poku is also getting attention with the Ghanaian national team, with whom he earned his first cap last week against Canada in Washington.
While a turbulent offseason might be coming to New York City, they first have to end the current campaign against New England on Sunday.