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Welcome back to Storylines, where every owl has its day, but those days are strictly Wednesdays. We’re on to Saturday, and the reigning MLS Cup champs from the Big Apple face off against the Loons from the Little Apple for the right to say “how ya like them apples?”

Dominance

Since their return from regular CONCACAF Champions League play, New York City FC have been playing like maybe the league’s best team. Their superiority is encapsulated by one simple stat, and it doesn’t involve some of their league-topping offensive stats. City hasn’t allowed a goal in the month of May in MLS, outscoring opponents 8-0 across five games (4-0-1). To go a step further, the outstanding New York defense hasn’t allowed chances totaling greater than 0.8 xG in any of those five games. There’s one thing that may give Minnesota some optimism, though: each of those five games have been against teams currently lower in the standings than Minnesota, who could stand to give City their stiffest test in a month.

Adjusting The Settings

Both Kervin Arriaga and Michael Boxall picked up their fifth yellow cards of the season in Sunday’s win over Dallas, which will cause them to be suspended for this weekend’s game. Of Minnesota’s thirteen league games, Boxall has played every minute of twelve of them, and Arriaga every minute of eleven of them. The choices that Adrian Heath makes to fill in for two pillars of his regular starting XI will be critical to Minnesota’s success and survival in this difficult matchup. Opportunities for players such as Joseph Rosales and Brent Kallman could be around the corner, or a formation change could surprise us.

The Perfect Game

For all their above-described dominance, City’s offense actually hasn’t been that free-flowing. In their last three games (the U.S. Open Cup game against New England, plus league games against DC United and Chicago), New York’s goals have come from the following sources: header from a corner kick, penalty drawn from a handball during a corner kick, penalty drawn from a handball during a corner kick, turnover in the final third. That’s correct: New York has scored just one goal from open play of their last four, and that (the extra-time winner against New England) was created by a fortunate set of circumstances. City dominated each of these games by xG, but should Minnesota be able to avoid critical mistakes, they have not been rampant recently.

MATCH INFO

Minnesota United FC vs. NYCFC

Allianz Field | St. Paul, MN

05.28.22 | MLS Game No. 14

7:00 pm CT (MLS Live on ESPN+, Bally Sports North, The CW-Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)