We chatted with Matthew Mangam of Hudson River Blue to learn more ahead of tonight’s clash with New York City Football Club!

As NYCFC works to clinch a playoff spot, how are supporters feeling?

Earlier last month, everyone thought NYCFC was out of the playoffs and done with the season. The team sparked back to life and could now sneak into the playoffs. I’d say that the supporters are happy with the position NYCFC is in right now because this has been a tough season for the team. If we could manage to get into the playoffs and make a run, the season wouldn’t be looked at as a disappointment.

What have been some recent challenges for NYCFC? Some strengths?

NYCFC has still struggled with scoring goals. Mounsef Bakrar missed several chances against Inter Miami, and it eventually came back to haunt us after conceding an injury-time equalizer. With that being said, NYCFC conceding goals late in the game has been an issue. It has happened several times this season and cost us vital points. Matt Freese has been very strong between the posts after taking the starting role from Luis Barraza. Despite the team switching off defensively at times this year, the backline has been strong. Thiago Martins and Birk Risa pair well together at center-back. Tayvon Gray has really impressed supporters this year and has put up great numbers defensively.

Who should we look out for on Saturday?

Santi Rodríguez. The Uruguay winger/midfielder has been in great form and one of NYCFC’s best players at times this season. He has found his rhythm as of recently and is dangerous. Julián Fernández scored his first goal for the club a couple of weeks ago and can make an impact off the bench. If Talles Magno plays in his natural spot as a left-winger, he can link up nicely with striker Mounsef Bakrar. Bakrar has struggled recently, but if he can bury his chances, he can do some damage.

Your predicted starting XI? Final score? (If you aren’t superstitious like I am!)

I think head coach Nick Cushing will put out his best XI as it is all or nothing at this point in the season. Matt Freese will start in goal. The back four will be Brainan Cufré, Birk Risa, Thiago Martins, and Tayvon Gray. James Sands and Andrés Perea will play as the CDMs. Talles Magno on the left, Santi Rodríguez in the middle, and Andres Jasson on the right. Mounsef Bakrar as striker. I think NYCFC will win 2-1.

How do you think this season shakes out for NYCFC?

If NYCFC can win against DC on Saturday and beat the Chicago Fire on Decision Day, I think we make the playoffs. I think we would verse Montréal in the first round of the playoffs and win that, but lose to FC Cincinnati in the next round.

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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[…] echo Matthew Mangam in our earlier interview with Hudson River Blue, Rodríguez has been in good form and could certainly give D.C.’s defense trouble […]

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