MINNEAPOLIS — There will be some missing vertebrae in New York City FC’s spine for Saturday’s match against Minnesota United.
Striker David Villa, playmaker Maxi Moralez and central defender Maxime Chanot are all out of the matchday roster for artificial reasons — specifically, TCF Bank Stadium’s synthetic surface.
None of the three regular starters traveled to Minneapolis.
“The turf fields are not good for some players,” NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent said when forecasting his lineup after Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
Villa and Chanot have minor discomfort with their adductors, while Moralez has a nagging Achilles hitch. The symptoms of all three ailments are exacerbated on artificial surfaces – in particular those constructed primarily for American football. TCF Bank Stadium is the home of the University of Minnesota Gophers football team. Minnesota United’s soccer specific Allianz Field will be christened for the 2019 season.
Eloi Amagat, 33, will play the No. 10 for Moralez, while Jo Inge Berget replaces Villa.
Sebastien Ibeagha, the 2017 USL Defender of the Year, will take Chanot’s spot in the starting XI. He is accustomed to playing alongside Alexander Callens in central defense – the pair have started 14 games together. Callens returns Saturday following a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.
“I’m very happy with Seb,” Torrent said. “The last performance for Seb was amazing – his level is going up, up, up every day.”
Ibeagha and Callens last partnered on Sept. 8 in the 1-1 draw against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United at Yankee Stadium.
Torrent made one other change to the lineup, with 19-year old Valentin Castellanos starting in favor of Ronald Matarrita.
New York City has managed to earn 20 of a possible 30 points in the 10 matches Villa has missed due to injury this season (6-2-2), while the Luxembourg international Chanot has been absent from 14 games (7-4-3).
Moralez will miss his first match of the season. He has started all 31 games and the Argentinian has played all but 30 minutes this season.
“Maxi was not injured – he was very, very tired,” Torrent said after replacing Moralez with Jo Inge Berget in the 69th minute against the Fire.
NYCFC is not the only MLS team to take precautions when visiting artificial turf fields. Portland manager Gio Savarese kept starting midfielders Diego Chara and Diego Valeri home when the Timbers visited Minnesota last weekend. The Loons scored three first-half goals and held on for the 3-2 victory against the Timbers.