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NYCFC hope to get healthier vs. Sporting K.C.

(Image: Twitter/@SportingKC)

The entire roster is healthy, and New York City FC hope a full complement of players and an abundance of opportunities can help them make up more ground in a competitive Eastern Conference.

NYCFC will get one more chance before the All-Star break when they host Sporting Kansas City at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

NYCFC (8-3-8, 32 points) dropped two straight while Alexandru Mitrita sat out due to injury. Mitrita returned and scored in the 83rd minute Saturday in New York City’s 2-1 win at Colorado. Heber scored in the first half, and he has five goals in a four-game goal-scoring streak that was interrupted by a hamstring injury.

Those goals moved NYCFC into fifth place, seven points behind first-place Philadelphia. NYCFC also has played only 19 games — four fewer than the Union and the fewest in MLS.

“It’s nice when we play our way and get three points,” Heber told the team’s official website. “Now we move up in the table and we need to keep working this way.”

While the New York Yankees are in Boston to play the Red Sox on Friday, NYCFC will try to keep rolling at home, where they are 4-1-4. The one home loss occurred on July 7 against Portland in a 1-0 decision.

Sporting Kansas City (6-8-7, 25 points) are five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. SKC posted shutout wins over the Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps earlier this month but absorbed a 2-0 home loss to FC Dallas on Saturday.

In its attempt at a season-best third straight win, Sporting K.C. put merely two of its 18 shots on target.

“You’ve got to score. We should have been up 3-0 in the first half,” SKC coach Peter Vermes said. “We gave a stupid goal away. We never were dangerous enough in the second half. When we did get chances, we weren’t edgy and we weren’t clinical enough.”

Felipe Gutierrez leads Sporting K.C. with eight goals, followed by Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell with seven apiece. The offense could be aided if Roger Espinoza returns to the starting lineup after appearing as a substitute last week in his comeback from a knee injury.

NYCFC have won the last two meetings against Sporting Kansas City, 2-0 last year and 1-0 in 2017.

REUTERS/Field Level Media

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