Nick Cushing believes the right mentality will be key for NYCFC against Toronto FC this weekend.
The Boys in Blue entertain TFC on Saturday evening knowing a victory could push them above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.
A victory would also extend the team’s unbeaten run to five games, and although their opponents enter the game off the back of a 4-0 defeat, Cushing is in no way taking the occasion lightly.
"I think the only way that we're going to make sure we're above the line is by consistently winning and we haven't done that yet,” Cushing said.
“We know that we are playing playoff football and we need to have the mentality. We need to win games because if we don’t win we know it’s going to be incredibly difficult [to make it]. We've been good at that over the last two years in the playoffs. That's why we got to two Conference Finals and we have to adopt that mentality.
“Even in your question, you say 'even though it's Toronto’ but we can't think that way. They’re bottom of our league and they haven't won many football games, but this team beat Philadelphia two games ago.
“This team can win football games, but we have to adopt the mentality that we have to go and win and we have to play with intensity. For us it's about concentrating on ourselves, making sure that we have the right mentality going into the game make sure that we play with the right intensity."
NYCFC secured an important victory against Orlando City midweek thanks to goals from Mounsef Bakrar and Talles Magno.
Reflecting on the result, Cushing felt he saw the kind of mentality and intensity that he expects tomorrow against TFC.
"I think the Orlando game showed me that the mentality and the intensity - how we are thinking, applying, and, approaching games - is there to go and win in what is ultimately a playoff game,” Cushing said.
“We have to make sure that we get the game level exactly where we need it and that comes with mentality and preparation. I've been really pleased with the way the team prepared yesterday and today. We know that we won against Orlando but this is in the past now. It's about the future and about the next game.
"It's about how we make sure we go into that game with a real understanding that it's about how we perform on the day."
The Head Coach was also able to provide a health update ahead of the game, with several first-team players likely to miss the meeting with TFC on Saturday.
The Boys in Blue are navigating a physically demanding week with three games in the space of seven days, and are keen to emerge from this weekend three points better off.
"Keaton Parks won't be ready to start the game," Cushing said.
"It's going to be whether he can make the bench and I think it will be really helpful if he can make the bench just purely because we've lost Alfredo Morales - he won't be ready for the game.
"He has an abductor problem. I would say we're a little bit bruised and a little bit battered from playing twice - at the weekend and then playing again on Wednesday, it was a really really tough game in the sense that we fought really hard against a good Orlando team.
"But we got in today and the team is in good spirits. You can expect some rotation in the team, not so much, but I think there's some opportunity for some guys that maybe haven't seen the field lately. I think Talles Magno is the obvious one. He's pushing for a start."
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