The New England Revolution will travel to Yankee Stadium on Saturday to face NYCFC for their fourth match of the season.
Both NYCFC and the Revs are in less than ideal positions–the Revs are winless in their first three matches, while NYCFC have been on the decline ever since their away win at the MLS opener in Chicago. And while both sides will come out strong in what will likely prove to be a very even encounter, they’ll be missing key players due to the current international break.
As of late, the MLS has refused to incorporate FIFA’s international breaks into its schedule, despite the fact that 74 of its players (enough to set up three full squads) have been called up for their respective national sides.
Of these 74, New England and NYCFC contribute with five of their own players. Ronald Matarrita (Costa Rica), Mix Diskerud (USA), and Khiry Shelton (USA U23’s) will be absent for NYCFC, while the Revs will have to do without Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) and Lee Nguyen (USA).
Of course, the recent international call-ups are a great sign for the MLS, which has been on the rise for far too long. But the league’s oblivious nature in relation to FIFA’s international breaks is becoming detrimental to its quality of football.
There are also proponents that argue that the MLS’s disregard for international fixtures provides other players with more experience and exposure in the absence of each side’s heavyweights, even though the level of play may decrease across the board during FIFA breaks.
And, very much on that board, Saturday’s encounter between NYCFC and the Revolution may be painful to watch, with both teams suffering notable midfield absences. Expect an open match with many goals.