Three matches in eight days might be taxing on the body and mind, but for New York City FC, the team can’t get back on the field soon enough.
New York City FC earned an important three points against Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night. Not only that, but New York City FC recorded their first clean sheet since June 20.
The Club strives to build off of that performance and stay in the hunt for the Major League Soccer playoffs as New York City FC host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening.
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“The best part is you have another game to play within four days,” said goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who had seven saves against Toronto FC for his fourth shutout this season. “Hopefully this result is fresh in our minds as we take the field again and we can use the same formula.”
“I like playing games,” forward Patrick Mullins said. “I’m not going to say three games in a week isn’t taxing, but we want to play. Any player will tell you he wants to play in games.”
New York City FC (8-14-7; 31 points) moved one point ahead of Philadelphia (8-15-6; 30 points) following the mid-week victory. Montreal (9-11-6; 33 points) drew 1-1 at San Jose also on Wednesday, which keeps the Impact one point ahead of Orlando City SC (8-13-8; 32 points) for the sixth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
New York City FC couldn’t have picked a better time to play one of their most complete matches of the season. The back line of Chris Wingert, Jason Hernandez, Shay Facey and RJ Allen (match-high six tackles) kept Toronto FC’s dangerous playmakers, including Sebastian Giovinco (17 goals; 13 assists) and Jozy Altidore (10 goals), at bay. Defensive midfielder Andrew Jacobson (four tackles) was integral in the defending as well.
The overall team defense and first clean sheet in nearly three months was just as important as the three points according to head coach Jason Kreis.
“That’s the biggest thing tonight apart from the three points,” Kreis said. “To get a shutout was critical for us against a team that is very good in the attacking half of the field.
“AJ put in a tremendous shift for us. He was critical in a lot of tackles and stealing of passes. I thought he was fantastic at the end of the night. I was really pleased with the defensive commitment of the guys and obviously pleased that Josh was there at the end of the day to make some really great saves.”
While New York City FC are riding high after snapping a three-match losing streak and four-match winless stretch, San Jose may rue missed opportunities against Montreal on Wednesday night.
The Earthquakes (11-11-7; 40 points), who sit just below the playoff line in the Western Conference in seventh place, let a first-half lead slip away to 10-man Montreal en route to a draw at Avaya Stadium.
San Jose has earned just two points from the past three matches (0-1-2) following a season-high four-match win streak.
Forward Chris Wondolowski leads the club with 14 goals, while Matias Perez Garcia has a team-high seven assists. Goalkeeper David Bingham ranks second in MLS with 95 saves, trailing only Saunders (104).
New York City FC midfielder Frank Lampard, who scored his first goal for the Club in the 20th minute against Toronto FC, is raring to get back on the field following the victory and keep the momentum going.
“It was very important to get back on the winning track,” he said, “and it’s important again on Saturday.”