NEW YORK — Per Yankee Stadium mandate, the Philadelphia Union will not be able to wear Halloween masks when they enter the ball yard in the Bronx Wednesday night for their 7:08 p.m. ET MLS playoff match against New York City FC.
Not that the Union players need to hide their faces – they completed their best regular season in franchise history Sunday. However, the finale was a dismal 3-1 loss to NYCFC – at Yankee Stadium.
“We weren’t good enough,” Union head coach Jim Curtin lamented after the match. “They came out like an angry team.”
New York City scored twice in the opening 10 minutes of that game. In order to crack the “it’s difficult to beat the same team twice in a row” mantra, City will need to open with another crisp performance in the knockout round Wednesday night.
“The first 20 minutes and the whole first half, we played the way we wanted with aggressive and intense style of playing,” NYCFC fullback Anton Tinnerholm told Pro Soccer USA after Monday’s training session at the Stadium. “If we can play in that way I think we are the best team in the league. It’s important that we reach that level as we did in the first half yesterday (Sunday).”
NYCFC led 3-1 after 45 minutes on goals by Maxime Chanot, David Villa and an Austin Trusty own goal. The win improved City’s home stamp to 12-1-4 this season with a plus 26 goal differential.
“Right now, we are happy because for us we will play again at home,” NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent said. “It’s not easy to play against the same team, but the good news is that feeling when we play the first 50-60 minutes in the best way you can play – with confidence and desire.”
As to the back-to-back impediment refrain, Torrent suggested there is a certain percentage of truth to the challenge.
“You know the possibilities, if you won three of our games, normally the next game you have more possibilities to lose the game, no?” Torrent said. “They know exactly the way we play. We know them as well. Maybe it will be a balanced game.”
“Both of the teams know each other,” Tinnerholm said. “We know what we have to do to win and they know what they have to change to win so its going to be an interesting game of course.”
This will be the first postseason match between New York City and Philadelphia. City leads the overall series 5-3-1. The Union will be seeking their first win at Yankee Stadium, where they are 0-3-1.