Nick Cushing believes this weekend's clash with Atlanta United is one the Club must win if they are to compete near the top of the Eastern Conference.
The Boys in Blue secured an important point on the road this past weekend against New England Revolution, and will now return to the Five Boroughs for three straight home games.
Atlanta United are the first visitors to New York as the two sides meet at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. The Five Stripes are, like NYCFC, fostering grand ambitions this season, and Cushing believes that his side must seek to win games like this is they are to sit atop the conference.
"For us, it's about playing our game and being a team that tries to control the game and doesn't allow the opposition to control the game," he said.
"If we give those guys space, they've shown how many goals they can score, and if you give them opportunities they can share the goals around the team.
"They're a difficult team but as I said last week against New England, if we're going to be a team that improves from last year and challenges for trophies; these are the games that we have to win."
Cushing also stressed the need for his side to avoid sloppy fouls in their pursuit of victory against Atlanta - emphasizing a desire to limit Atlanta's space when they approach the final third.
"I think ultimately you have to keep them from around our goal - against a good team that's difficult - we have to make sure that we defend correctly and that we don't get lazy and foul," he said.
"We've been guilty of that this season. We've given away too many fouls. If we do that consistently in MLS with guys like Thiago Almada and Lucas Zelarayan, we've seen before that they can punish us.
"We have to be aware of it and we have to make sure that the team is fresh enough to think straight and not get lazy."
Elsewhere, Cushing also highlighted the work his players and staff are doing to continually foster greater chemistry and togetherness, with both offseason recruits and returning players forging bonds in pursuit of team success.
"The guys are working incredibly hard at building chemistry," Cushing explained.
"We're meeting me and we're going through the tactical side of the game, we're building our team spirit, we're fixing the problems that we have, and we're not perfect.
"You can see in the performances where it's patchy at times. We want to be better in the final third. We're trying to build that chemistry - it is a byproduct of the amount of time that we've had together, but it's not a problem.
"We will continue to work. We want to have more points. We want to have more wins, but we also are realistic and I'm content with where we're at because of the work that we're doing inside of the training facility.
"Whether that's the coaching team, the leadership team on the pitch, or the whole squad. We are improving every day on the training pitch and we will continue to work hard to make sure that we get a better."