NYCFC returned to SUNY Purchase on Wednesday morning with clear heads, full hearts and a collective iron will.
With the 2-0 first leg defeat to Toronto fully worked out of the system following two days away from the game, the team trained in front of the media determined to get themselves on the comeback trail.
RJ Allen, one of the key components in the team’s run to the Playoffs, believes that a positive mind frame is key to NYCFC turning around the deficit and has highlighted the Yankee Stadium factor as decisive to his team’s chances.
“The mentality of the group is really good right now – look, we’re playing in front of our fans and we haven’t lost at home for a while, we’ve won by multiple goals on multiple occasions this season so we’re really positive,” he said.
“Going into the match it’s win or go home so we’re going to leave it all out there, we’re going to go for it. It’s our first Playoffs game, this is what it’s all about, this is what you go in for.
“We knew going into the first game that we were going to have to win this one no matter what, so here we are!”
The first leg scoreline creates an intriguing tactical setup to the match, with Toronto knowing that a road goal will leave NYCFC needing four goals to advance.
RJ knows that the home side will need to attack on Sunday evening but says it’s too early to know what the exact tactical plan from the coaches will be.
“We don’t want to give up a goal in any game – we’re down 2-0 but the positive thing is we’re really good at home lately and we’re going to rally behind our home crowd,” Allen explained.
“It’s going to be a really special day for our club, so we’re really looking forward to it.
“They closed us down real well in Toronto – I’m sure tactically we’ll make some changes but we’ll find out more about that in the coming days. I’m sure the coaching staff will prepare us well and we’ll be ready to go.
“We’ve got a special group with some really talented players – we’re really looking forward to it.”
Allen has been one of the breakout stars of the season for NYCFC, holding down a fullback slot for most of the season, his lungbusting coverage of the flanks earning him a special place in the hearts of fans.
While he’s proud to have made a place in the XI his own, he knows exactly why he must not take his place for granted.
RJ added: “You can never get comfortable. I’m someone who will continue to work hard every day and not get complacent – as soon as you get complacent, someone comes in to take your spot.”