New York City FC is clinging to the third seed in the Eastern Conference with four matches to play.
With a mere three points earned in the last six matches, the boys from the Bronx now must ward off the challenges of both Columbus Crew SC and the Philadelphia Union.
Therefore, the mid-week tilt with the Chicago Fire has gained an elevated level of importance. The 4th place Crew SC trails NYCFC by three points while 5th ranked Philadelphia lags by four points.
Dropping to the five hole would result in a road knock-out match in the MLS playoffs – a scenario that was inconceivable a month ago.
“It’s a must win,” NYCFC defender Ben Sweat said. “We lost to them last time so we’re going to have a lot of energy and a lot of intensity.”
In Chicago, the Fire defeated City 3-2 on a pair of second half goals from Aleksander Katai.
It was Dome Torrent’s second match in charge of New York City and his side followed the Fire defeat with four consecutive clean sheet victories.
The initial glow under new leadership (five wins in Torrent’s first six matches) is in dire need of some polish to close the regular season – New York City’s last triumph was six weeks ago at Toronto FC.
“You play the last nine games with just one win you have to win the next game – we have to win,” Torrent said in reference to the Fire match. “I’ve been happy with our recent performances just not the result. The sport in general is about the result. if you are not able to win the game the people have a lot of doubts about the team, about me – that’s normal. If you win the game, you are a good coach if you don’t win the game you are a bad coach. I try to be a good coach.”
The paucity of goals has been a concern with just four finishes in the last six matches.
“You win games if you score goals,” Jo Inge Berget said “It’s as easy as that.”
Berget, who started in the Montreal match after a three-game injury absence, has not scored a goal in over two months.
“It’s just about giving that extra 5-percent and that little bit of luck as well,” Berget said.
“No team’s perfect, no player, no coach, no organization is perfect,” Sweat said. “We try to go out and try to win every game.”
The obligatory victory against the Fire will commence Wednesday, 7:08pm EST at Yankee Stadium.