Our first-ever postseason game is almost here as we travel north to BMO Field for the Eastern Conference semifinal first leg.
In the first of a new series, NYCFC Journalist Mark Booth picks out five Major Keys to the game…
No matter what happens over the next eight days, New York City FC have broken new ground by reaching the MLS Playoffs this season.
It’s been an incredible campaign in so many ways, with beautiful football and unshakable team togetherness characterizing our run to the postseason.
At a fan event at Modell’s on Tuesday night, Jason Hernandez describes this team as “the building blocks for something that’s going to be here for a long time.”
In years to come, fans here and now in the city will be able to say that they were in at the ground level at the precipice of New York sporting history and that makes this next week all the more exciting.
Lampard to Start?
Frank Lampard could hardly have made a more decisive impact on his return to action against Columbus Crew SC.
Coming in from the bench to assist the final two goals which made sure of the points and our place in the semifinals, it was like Frank had never been away.
Patrick Vieira told journalists on Wednesday that it’s no coincidence that NYCFC had made their big Playoffs push when Lampard got fit earlier in the campaign, could his reintroduction in postseason provide another shot in the arm?
Frank has trained normally all week but with Steven Mendoza and Jack Harrison both producing impressive performances in Frank’s usual area of the field last time out, it remains to be seen whether the Englishman will return to the XI against Toronto.
All eyes on @NYCFC an hour before kick-off, then…
Another spot fans will be checking when the team is announced is the very first one.
Coach Vieira was coy when quizzed on this subject in his media briefings, telling reporters that he will take a late call on what he described as a “difficult decision”.
Eirik did his prospects no harm at all with an excellent MLS debut against Columbus last Sunday, while Josh has been at the very heart of what NYCFC have achieved ever since the very first game in 2015.
As Khiry Shelton has said in the build-up to this one, competition for places in a squad is a healthy thing and will only bring the best the best out of both custodians, no matter who Patrick chooses for this next match.
Toronto: More Than Giovinco
Jose Altidore showed in Toronto’s Knockout Round win over Philadelphia on Wednesday exactly why it would be folly to focus solely on Sebastian Giovinco.
The pair were a defender’s worst nightmare in the 3-1 win as Altidore used all of his hulking frame to bully on his markers and Giovinco provided the kind of magic which has produced 17 goals and 15 assists so far this season.
It’s a dynamite combination and when you factor in Michael Bradley loading bullets from the midfield and the hard-working, talented support cast around the trio, you know we are in for one tough two-legged assignment.
NYCFC will take to the field on Sunday with the good luck messages from all of the people which made this great city run ringing in their ears, including the FDNY, NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio – not to mention, our incredible fans.
There’s been a huge groundswell of support for the team in this pivotal week as our supporters in NYC have mobilized, taking to the streets in our colors to show they’re behind our boys as part of the #SupportYourCity campaign.
Now the guys will be out to repay this compliment in Canada and try to get a result which will put us in a good place for our Yankee Stadium homecoming on Sunday week.
Here goes nothin’…