ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — One glance at the league schedule and another at the table leaves Maxime Chanot’s friends in Europe scratching their head.
New York City FC enter Week 17 with the fewest games played in the league (14), four fewer games than first-place Philadelphia, which comes to Yankee Stadium Saturday night in the Cityzens first league game since June 6, and five fewer than second-place Montreal.
When you combine that with the upcoming fixture congestion on the heels of 23 days between league games, it leaves Chanot, in his fourth year in MLS, baffled.
“It’s a little bit weird for a European player like me, a little strange to try to explain to a friend in Europe why some teams have five more games [played] than us,” Chanot told Pro Soccer USA Wednesday after training. “Obviously there is the Gold Cup, so we can understand there is a little break. I’m a little bit disappointed and I don’t agree, but this is part of the league and we have to accept it.”
For the Luxembourg international, its just another uniquely MLS thing, like playing league games during international windows.
“As a player, it’s never so easy, but we have to deal with it,” Chanot said. “It’s part of our job and ok, we we just forget and don’t try to use this as an excuse.”
The biggest question ahead of a busy stretch beginning Saturday is can NYCFC keep its form, despite injuries and international call-ups, despite the long Gold Cup break? They have an MLS-best 10-match unbeaten streak and, along with LAFC, are the only other team in the league with just one loss. They are also unbeaten in the Bronx this year at 2-0-4.
“We can see on the pitch every single day everybody fights for his spot, every fight for the same objective is to try to reach the playoffs and why not more? There is no difference, the coaches are clever enough and strict enough to make everybody ready and focused about the next game.”
Chanot is wary of the Union, a team that has raised its collective level and currently sit atop the East with 32 points, nine points adrift of sixth-place NYCFC with those four games in hand.
“It’s a good team with very nice players, very good players, some nice new players who also fit very well in the team,” Chanot said. “You can see in the league table they are on top of the league so it means they are one of the best teams in the league. It’s going to be tough, but obviously we’re at home and we’re going to want to win three points. I think we have the team to do it.”