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Injuries, illness and international call-ups challenge New York City FC

Mar 17, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Orlando City defender Mohamed El-Munir (13) chases the ball against New York City winger Rodney Wallace (23) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC is one of 12 Major League Soccer teams that will compete during the “international break” this weekend. Coupled with injury and illness woes, the depth of NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira’s squad will be on display.

In addition to the extraordinary finishing skills he has exhibited in his Major League Soccer career, David Villa has also been durable. The New York City FC striker has missed eight of 105 regular season matches in MLS due to injury or illness, including the 2-0 home triumph against Orlando City last Saturday.  Villa has a calf injury and for the second straight week is in isolation at training.

“David is getting better and he’s doing some training on the side,” Vieira said after Wednesday’s session. “He will do more every day and then we’re going to make a decision on Friday.”

Villa is doubtful for the road match on artificial surface at the New England Revolution on Saturday afternoon. NYCFC has five losses in the eight matches Villa has been out of the 18 since 2015.

Rodney Wallace, another integral figure in Vieira’s front three in the trio of victories to open the season, is on international duty with Costa Rica and will miss the New England match. Wallace has quality on the attack but his essential contributions are on the defensive side. Ismail Tajouri-Shradi scored his first career goal thanks in part to Wallace’s efforts out of possession.

“That first goal against Orlando especially,” Vieira said. “Rodney is the one who made the quicker reaction when we put on the pressure in the back. We don’t have other players with those same characteristics.”

Potential replacements are battling ailments ahead of the match. Ebenezer Ofori is the top candidate to supplant Ring but he is less than 100-percent with an illness. Norwegian forward Jo Inge Berget could be inserted for Villa but Vieira is not yet certain.

“He’s been training the last couple of days,” said Vieira. “We will wait till Friday to see if he will travel with the team.”

Berget suffered a quad strain in preseason and then had the flu which has prevented him from competing in any match since joining the club on a free transfer from Malmo FF at the end of February.

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