NYCFC‘s ability to earn results despite a poor performance across the pitch is a mark of improvement since last season.
NYCFC’s draw with the New York Red Bulls may have afforded Toronto with plenty of breathing room at the top of the Eastern Conference — but that should take nothing away from the Yankee Stadium side’s credentials.
Patrick Vieira’s men currently sit nine points behind the Eastern Conference leaders but could close the gap to six points with a victory in their match in hand. However, with less than 10 matches remaining, the prospect of NYCFC pulling off a first place finish looks unlikely.
And yet, they certainly look ready to make their mark when the playoff season comes around. They may not always play well but their ability to avoid defeat despite a poor performance is a positive sign.
At the start of the season, Vieira’s men often played well but struggled with results. At that point of the season, performances should be the focus, as they will generally correspond to results. That time has passed, however, and as long as NYCFC continue to grind out results, their chances of success in the playoffs will be that much higher.
It may have appeared that NYCFC would struggle in the closing stages of the season after they failed to pick up wins despite unquestionable dominance and superiority in their opening fixtures. They have certainly improved in that regard.
Their recent clashes with the Red Bulls are a perfect allusion to their improvement since last season. In two of the three matches between the two sides, a poor performance from NYCFC sent them crashing to two humiliating 7-0 and 4-1 defeats.
The latest two editions of the Hudson River Derby were far from easy fixtures. The Boys in Blue found themselves 2-1 down at Yankee Stadium and were dominated last Friday at the Red Bull Arena.
They still claimed four out of six points. And that is ultimately what separates NYCFC from last season.
Toronto handed it to NYC in the playoffs last year — and while they did so in a recent 4-0 victory, it is difficult to see the New Yorkers going out in such a manner in the playoffs.
NYCFC is on course to repeat its second place finish from last season. However, despite the similarity of their final league position, make no mistake about it: NYCFC has taken a step forward.