How does a team prove that a big win vs. a top team wasn’t just a fluke? Win the following match against a team that you should beat.
This is where we find out how “real” NYCFC is. Will they make the playoffs? At this rate, probably. Will they go one-and-done in November? Maybe. Could they actually stun everyone and reach the MLS Cup? Again, maybe.
After their 4-1 loss at the Red Bulls two weeks ago, the Pigeons rallied without five of their regular players and head coach Patrick Vieira on the sidelines, defeating a surprisingly tough Colorado Rapids side easily 5-1.
So the question coming off of Saturday’s win against Colorado is whether or not that win was a fluke, or if NYCFC, and most notably, their depth, stepped up and gave everyone a preview of what this club is really going to look like for the immediate future.
“This is why I love the game, because it’s all about the team,” Vieira said during training this week. “It’s not just about one or two individuals. I always believe in football the group, the roster, is more important than any individual.”
Out of anyone on the team, designated player Frank Lampard stepped up big time, scoring the club’s first-ever hat trick in his first time ever wearing the captain’s armband last Saturday. The MLS Player of the Month for July scored six goals in July, leading NYCFC to four wins in the month. Overall, he’s scored eight goals in 11 appearances this year after missing the first two and a half months with an injured calf.
The Pigeons are hot going into their Friday night matchup vs. the San Jose Earthquakes (11 p.m. ET, UniMas), winning three of their last five matches. However, NYCFC has lost two of their last three on the road – 3-1 at Sporting KC and 4-1 at Red Bulls – making Friday night that much more interesting. San Jose isn’t on the same level as either SKC or the Red Bulls and without a consistent attack or a reliable backline, NYCFC and their attack that’s scored a league-leading 40 goals could hang a five-spot on the Quakes Friday night.
If they’re as “for real” as everyone, and even to a point themselves, are saying they are, NYCFC should win this smoothly, especially with five players out for the Quakes Friday night. The Pigeons are expected to be at full strength with everyone coming back from suspension or minor injury. They also still own the best road record in MLS, going 6-4-1 away from Yankee Stadium.
Then again, this is an NYCFC side that completely didn’t show up against SKC or the Red Bulls on the road. The Quakes are also 6-1-3 at home this season and have lost just once at home in their last 15 matches dating back to last year.
NYCFC was expected to beat San Jose last year, and even though they did 3-2, they nearly blew a 3-0 lead in the final 20 minutes as both Quincy Amarikwa and Chris Wondolowski pulled them back within one.
Then again, that was against an NYCFC side that struggled on both sides of the ball throughout most of the season. This year is different and Quakes’ head coach Dominic Kinnear knows it.
“They make the most of their chances,” he said.” It all coincides with the health of Frank Lampard, who’s been scoring a lot of goals. They also go from attack to defending very quick with good players.”
The Quakes are 4-2-6 against top-10 teams in the Eastern Conference this year, but have won just one of their last 10 matches.
The lone star for San Jose has been goalkeeper David Bingham, who’s only allowed no more than one goal in six straight matches.
The Quakes helped themselves depth-wise by trading for Orlando City’s Darwin Ceren at the end of the MLS Summer Trasnfer Window this week, adding a sense of stability in what was San Jose’s midfield by committee.
NYCFC’s new centerback Maxime Chanot made his blue debut in the second half against Colorado and performed very well despite just having one day of training under his belt.
It should be safe to assume that both Chanot and Ceren will play Friday night.
NYCFC can really make a statement Friday night at San Jose. The key for this team, this month especially, as I’ve said before, is winning against the teams that they’re supposed to beat. San Jose is one of those teams. As is Columbus next week, and Orlando on the 28th.
The 5-1 win against Colorado was cool. So how do these Pigeons follow that performance? With a win, plain and simple.