NYCFC stuttered on the big occasion last season and can assert their improvement in such scenarios with a win in Canada.
NYCFC claimed a big-time 2-1 win over Chicago Fire on Saturday to head into a crucial clash at Toronto on the 30th.
After a defeat to Vancouver and a late equalizer from Toronto denied them points in previous fixtures, NYCFC supporters might not have enjoyed as great a sense of comfort prior to this match as they did in other matches.
However, NYCFC’s response to a disappointing start to their month was impressive and should breed confidence ahead of a massive fixture with conference leaders in Toronto. NYCFC’s victory over Chicago ensures that their challenge at the top of the Eastern Conference remains intact, and keeps the possibility that they leapfrog Toronto open.
Last Wednesday’s fixture with Toronto may have given the impression that Vieira’s men weren’t up to the challenge for top spot, as they were unable to make a good performance count and see the final stages of the match. But the result on Saturday should reassure supporters that such a challenge very much remains in the cards.
As far as the table is concerned, only one point separates NYCFC and Chicago, though the latter does have a match in hand. Even still, four points are not insurmountable and are in NYC’s range.
However, the Yankee Stadium side must claim a result in Canada in order to ensure that the gap remains as tight as possible and that Toronto doesn’t gain too much ground over them either. Fortunately, their performance against Chicago certainly suggests that they can take all three points back to the Bronx.
NYCFC was solid on both ends of the pitch, creating chances despite going down a man early on. They also defended well, although they were slightly fortunate to see the Fire strike the post just seconds before the referee blew for full time.
NYC’s ability to take their chances and edge a tight match is the strongest indication that they are equipped to handle such situations. They weren’t dominant but did grind out the result nonetheless. A team must be able to win in such a manner if they are to compete at the top of the table throughout a season, and it would be wrong to disregard the fact that they did just that.
It was the opposite story just a few days earlier in their draw with Toronto, when despite their superiority, they were unable to clinch all three points and dropped two at the conclusion of the match.
However, NYC’s dominance, though it counted for very little in the end, is a positive sign and a representation that they can compete with the best teams in the league. NYCFC can use this as a platform when they take Toronto on in just a few days time.
NYC was rarely able to handle the big occasions last year and saw themselves miss out on top spot and endure humiliation in the playoffs. Their trip to Canada will tell us just how far they’ve come since.