New York City FC are taking a playoff-style approach to their final eight matches of the season.
The Club’s 28 points puts them in the hunt for the sixth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. New York City FC (7-12-7) are currently seventh, while Montreal (8-10-4; 28 points) is sixth with a better goal differential. Fellow expansion side Orlando City SC (7-12-7) are eighth also on 28 points. Philadelphia (7-13-6; 27 points) and Chicago (7-13-5; 26 points) are also in the chase as the season winds down.
“It’s a playoff mentality,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders said. “It’s essentially do or die every game.”
New York City FC’s first test during this vital end-of-the-season run is against Columbus Crew SC on Saturday.
Kickoff is 4 p.m. ET from Yankee Stadium (YES Network, WFAN, WADO).
“We have to take these last eight games one at a time,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “We have to put all of our focus and energy into this first game. It’s critical we get three points at home.”
New York City FC return to the confines of Yankee Stadium following a cross-country road trip with stops in Columbus and Los Angeles. The Club drew 2-2 with the Crew on August 19 before losing 5-1 to the defending MLS Cup Champion Galaxy on August 23.
Despite the result, Kreis and his players are using the last match as a learning tool.
“The biggest lesson we learned is if we aren’t all together and physically ready to play a team like L.A., we’re going to get dominated,” Kreis said. “For me, that’s the best team in the league; they’re head and shoulders above the rest. If we aren’t all together we don’t stand with a team like that right now.”
Midfielder Tommy McNamara, who has become a constant in the Starting XI in recent months, said the Club needs to move on from the last match.
“It’s a new week, so we can’t dwell on it,” said McNamara, who has started the last 13 matches. “We have eight games left and we really need to give it everything we have to make this playoff push.
“We need to keep pushing the pace of the game and we can’t get too comfortable early on.”
Columbus, currently third in the Eastern Conference at 10-8-8 (38 points), comes into Saturday’s match following a comeback 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City at MAPFRE Stadium on August 22.
The Crew scored twice in the final 10 minutes to turn a 2-1 deficit into a one-goal victory. Jack McInerney, who was traded to the club from Montreal on August 4, scored the winner in the 88th minute.
Columbus, led by Major League Soccer’s top scorer Kei Kamara (18 goals), is 6-2-4 in the last 12 matches, winning four of the last seven.
New York City are happy to be back at Yankee Stadium. The Club beat Eastern Conference-leading D.C. United 3-1 their last time in the Bronx on August 13.
“It feels great being back at home,” McNamara said. “We love playing at Yankee Stadium in front of our home fans and we expect to have a positive result this weekend in front of them.”
“We’re positive, we’re upbeat and we still have a chance to make the playoffs with eight games left,” said Saunders, who leads MLS with 88 saves. “We got a win at home the last time we played there, so we hope to get another one. We’re eager to get back out there in front of our home fans.”