After finally experiencing the inevitable in being eliminated from playoff contention, New York City FC look to play spoiler at Orlando City.
By Jeff Weisinger
Now that New York City FC has been eliminated from playoff contention after Montreal’s 1-0 win over Colorado last Saturday, the Blues can now aim to finish the season strong, without worry about fighting for a playoff spot.
At the same time, they can also play spoilers to an expansion Orlando City team Friday night (7 p.m. ET, UniMas) that still has a small shot to break into the postseason scene and make some history.
In other words, if NYCFC isn’t getting in, then no other expansion club is in 2015.
“We’ve watched Orlando before, we know they’ve still got something to play for, we have to assert ourselves,” Frank Lampard said. “If we do that, I believe we can win the game.”
“It’s an interesting scenario because now we don’t play for points or a possibility to make the playoffs,” head coach Jason Kreis explained. “We play for pride and self-respect and we play for our fans.”
Both the Blues and the Lions met in late July back in Yankee Stadium in NYCFC’s 5-3 win over OCSC. Andrea Pirlo made his much-anticipated debut in a wild atmosphere in the Bronx as NYC recorded their best offensive performance of the season.
Both teams opened the 2015 campaign against one another at the Citrus Bowl back on March 8th, playing to a 1-1 draw as Mix Diskerud scored the first goal and Kaka answered on a free kick in the beginning of stoppage time on a shot that bounced off of defender Jeb Brovsky, preserving the point. NYCFC hopes that this time around, they can finish out for the win, especially with what’s on the line for the Lions.
“We know we’re going to have to weather a bit of a storm,” Kreis said. “They’re going to have a fantastic crowd, I’m sure of it. They’re going to put a lot of energy into the game.
“They need all three points, so I would think we’re going to have to expect them to come out flying at the beginning of the match and if things are still hanging in the balances towards the end, then I’m sure we’re going to get everything thrown at us.”
NYC is coming off of the international bye week losing 2-1 at D.C. United in a downpour at RFK Stadium, a loss which all but ended their hopes for the postseason. The loss also ended a three-game winning streak which brought them back into the playoff mix late, however the Blues could gain a lot of momentum with a win Friday night at Orlando and one in their season finale in the Bronx against New England next Sunday night.
“We have to take our issues on, we have to finish for the sake of ourselves, personally, and for the sake of the people that’ll be watching the game and supporting us,” Lampard added. “I believe that when we’re at our best we can beat any team in the league. We need to take it on its merit as that.”
Lampard has been in rhythm during the team’s now-failed playoff push, scoring in three of NYCFC’s last four matches with an assist to his tally, including recording NYCFC”s fastest goal in franchise history in the first minute at D.C.
Orlando sits just four points behind sixth-place Montreal in the standings and would still be shy of overtaking the Impact in the standings with a win over New York City. However, the Blues could end Orlando’s playoff hopes all together with a win Friday night, regardless if the Impact win or lose on Saturday against New England.
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