Orangeburg, NY – New York City FC has a multitude of issues to confront at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.
Atlanta United will host the Cityzens in the second leg of their MLS Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Five Stripes lead 1-0 on aggregate.
On the surface it looms to be a vital road goal for Atlanta but in the deeper psyche of the boys from the Bronx it may serve as a motivator for the team that was dreadful away from home in the regular year.
“We would have said 1-0 to us would have been a good result at home but then you have to go and think about defending that result,” NYCFC forward Jo Inge Berget told Pro Soccer USA. “Now its nothing to lose, we got a bad result so its just to go for it. We have to win away and that’s an easy mindset to have.”
Berget, along with City fullback Anton Tinnerholm, experienced the two-leg format in UEFA Champions League qualifying with Malmö FF last July. Malmö settled for a 1-1 home draw in the opening leg before losing 4-2 on aggregate to Macedonia side, Vardar.
New York City’s challenge is similar to Malmö’s according to Berget who has four goals and three assists in 24 matches for City.
“If we score they’re going to be nervous, they’ve (Atlanta) got the thing to lose now,” said Berget whose last goal was scored on June 30 against Chicago. “They’re at home and defending a lead. Its our time to go to their house and take something from them. I don’t say its an easy task to do but easy to be motivated.”
Little has been simple away from Yankee Stadium – New York City tied a franchise low with only four victories.
“In that perspective we have a lot of things to prove in this game,” Berget said. “We go to Atlanta 1-0 down and we have to win that game and we have to do it away. We’ve got a lot of things going against us but a lot of things to prove as well.”
In NYCFC’s only visit to Atlanta this year, the two sides played to an entertaining 2-2 draw. Berget drew a penalty that was converted by David Villa for City’s opening goal.
“It’s not going to be good enough now,” Berget said. “We have to go there for the win. I’m not sure how they are going to come out but I expect them to be a little bit aware that they are in the lead. We’ll have to fight to get our goal but at the same time our mind set will be extremely offensive all day knowing they have something to lose – that can work to our advantage if we use it right.”