NYCFC went down 2-0 to Toronto at BMO Field in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Two late sucker punches from Jose Altidore and Tosaint Rickets have stacked the odds in the Canadian side’s favour but Head Coach Patrick Vieira is not giving up hope of advancing.
With one week to go until the second leg showdown at Yankee Stadium, Vieira has called upon his side to believe that they can turn it around next Sunday.
Explaining his lineup, he said: “We had a gameplan and I wanted to be more solid centrally and that’s why I chose Mikey to play in this game.
"We knew it would be a difficult game, we’ve played them already here. We know the quality of their players and the physicality of the game. I thought we managed it well until the first goal.
“I thought we managed their forwards quite well until then but the game is 95 minutes and we gave them a chance and they punished us right away.
“It makes it really difficult for us – but I think I have enough experience in the game to know that things can change.
“I look in the dressing room and we know anything can happen. We have to believe, we have to give ourselves a chance and go for it.”
Patrick also explained his decision to withdraw David Villa with ten minutes remaining, telling journalists that it was a tactical decision.
He said: “I wanted to bring fresh legs on up front and some height, we struggled to hold up the ball. I wanted some more physical present up there.
“It’s difficult to put a finger on anything specific – David didn’t touch the ball many times. His movement could be better to get the service. I wanted a bit more physicality up front.”
In a physical game, Patrick also felt as though the atmosphere played a part in giving Toronto the win, describing the noise in the stadium as “incredible”.
“They put a lot of pressure on us – it wasn’t an easy game at all,” he reflected.
“The atmosphere was electric, their fans were incredible throughout the 95 minutes. The referee was a little bit harsh on us and I think the occasion had an effect on some of his decisions, especially in the moments we were in difficult moments.
“They played very well and to concede the two goals late on is very frustrating.”