Now NYCFC can talk about momentum as they look for their fourth straight win on Wednesday at New England.
- New York City FC (7-6-5, 27 pts)
- New England Revolution (4-7-6, 19 pts)
- Eastern Conference, Jul. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Gillette Stadium
For the first time that anyone can remember, New York City FC has the one thing that that we all thought they had during several points of the last year and a half: momentum.
After their vengeful 2-0 win over the Red Bulls Sunday in the Bronx, NYCFC heads to New England on a short week with that elusive momentum finally behind them.
NYCFC enters their mid-week matchup against the Revolution winning three in a row, including back-to-back clean sheets. They are currently in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference table after the win, partly thanks to the Houston Dynamo defeating the Philadelphia Union 1-0 on Saturday, opening the way for NYCFC to take the conference’s top spot.
However, head coach Patrick Vieira isn’t in a rush to the first-place celebration.
“I think being on top of the league at this point in time doesn’t mean a lot,” he said after Sunday’s win. “What I’m pleased with is our performance and the way we played today because people were expecting a reaction from us from the way we played in the last game against [the Red Bulls].
“I’m really pleased because the team was really organized, determined and worked really well for each other – and of course, taking the three points because what is important for us is trying to have this kind of consistency game after game.”
The consistency part is something new for the Blues, something the club didn’t fully experience last year and to open this season, even during their recent five-match unbeaten streak prior to the 7-0 disaster vs the Red Bulls in late May.
“Well we were able to keep the momentum going from the last two wins into [Sunday’s] match,” Tommy McNamara said. “We have an important week coming up with these two games so hopefully we are able to continue this momentum and it’ll serve us well.”
Their current three-match winning streak currently ties a club record that was set towards the end of last year with the Blues trying to make a late playoff push. That playoff push ended quick after they lost in a downpour against D.C. United, which sparked the disappointing three-game losing streak to end the year and, in turn, bring Vieira to the Big Apple.
However, this has sort of been a different team since the loss against the Cosmos back on June 15th. NYCFC has looked more aggressive on the attack and in the midfield, and much more solidified and confident in their defensive third of the pitch. Frank Lampard seems to have found some sort of rhythm in the attack and Andoni Iraola has impressed a lot playing the central defensive midfielder role.
But the biggest difference with this team has been the emergence of 19-year-old rookie midfielder Jack Harrison, who earned his second MLS Team of the Week nod.
Harrison has impressed just about everyone in the league and the sport since his debut against the Red Bulls back in late May. He scored his second career goal in the win on Sunday and is proving to be a key part in the NYCFC attack.
“He does a good job for us and obviously he’s been doing it well in the final third,” McNamara said about him. “He has the ability to get in behind defenses but also to get underneath them and run at them. He is difficult to deal with and it makes other teams stay honest which helps the entire team out.”
Harrison brings the speed, agility and on-ball skills that many thought NYCFC would’ve got with forwards Steven Mendoza and Khiry Shelton. His assist to David Villa was a perfect example of what seems to be the legitimate future of the club.
In just five appearances for the Blues this season, his performance on the pitch has already sparked conversations of him possibly playing for either the English or United States national teams. However, Vieira still believes that we haven’t seen Harrison’s full potential.
“The best is yet to come,” he said. “We have a young, really talented player in our football club.”
Going into Wednesday’s match against the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports Go, MLS Live), NYCFC will need Harrison, David Villa and company to end a current three-match winless streak against their Eastern Conference rivals. The Revs defeated NYCFC 1-0 at Gillette Stadium back on July 18, 2015 and then at 3-1 at home in the regular season finale last year. Both teams played to a 1-1 draw back on March 26th.
The Blues will take on a Revs side that has lost two in a row after winning a pair straight. NYCFC also enters the match with the best road record in MLS, going 4-2-1 away from the Bronx.
The trip to Foxborough is the first of four away from home for the Blues this month, three of which are against Eastern Conference rivals, including their last New York Derby match at Red Bull Arena on July 24th, the last match of the road trip.
“It’s a really busy week, but when you’re winning games, it’s a happy camp,” Vieira said after training on Tuesday.
“The mood is really good, players are happy,the staff is happy, the club is happy, but we’re still a really long way from what we want to achieve.”