The smallest adjustments can often make the biggest difference.
New York City FC is learning that first hand.
“There were times in the beginning of the season we were playing really well, but weren’t getting the results,” defender Chris Wingert said. “Sometimes a little bit of extra effort during key moments in the match make that difference.”
The Club has continued putting forth that further effort, especially during vital moments, and it’s paying dividends on the field. New York City FC, who won for the fourth time in the last five matches with a victory at Montreal on July 4, look to build on their momentum against Toronto FC on Sunday.
Kickoff is 3 p.m. EDT at Yankee Stadium (ESPN, 970 AM, WQBU).
“What wins games is the effort you put forth and the attention to detail that has gotten us results over the last several weeks,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “We have to pay attention to the details and recognize what’s made us successful. We have to approach the game the right way.”
New York City FC (5-8-5; 20 points) have suffered just one defeat in the last six matches, most recently beating Montreal 2-1 on July 4 at Stade Saputo. Toronto FC (7-7-2; 23 points) come into the match on the heels of a 4-0 defeat at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Independence Day.
The victory over the Impact was a big statement for New York City FC, who suffered a tough 3-1 loss to the Red Bulls in front of a season-high 48,047 at Yankee Stadium the prior week.
“The win at Montreal was real important since we were coming off a rough performance and one we certainly weren’t pleased with the outcome against Red Bulls the week before,” Wingert said. “To come back and have good response like that was huge. Hopefully we can keep that going and continue getting good results the next few weeks.”
Villa continued his hot stretch, putting the Club ahead 1-0 in the first half and scoring the match winner on a picturesque free kick from 22 yards out in the 82nd minute. The forward, who has four goals in the last three matches and six in the last six, leads New York City FC with eight goals and ranks in the top-5 in Major League Soccer in goals, shots and shots on target.
The overall performance wasn’t the prettiest, according to Kreis, but New York City FC departed Canada with another vital three points.
“There are some positives we can take out of it, certainly. The effort was there and the fight was there,” said Wingert, who returned to the field after leaving the match against the Red Bulls in the 24th minute due to injury. “We were extremely pleased with the result. It’s something build on. We had great individual performances by David and Josh in goal as well. They really stepped up and helped us get that win, which was a big one for us.”
New York City FC are without starting midfielder Mix Diskerud. Mix, along with Toronto FC starters Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, are representing the United States in the 2015 Gold Cup, which began play on July 7.
Toronto FC is headlined by Italian playmaker Sebastian Giovinco. Giovinco has eight goals and seven assists in his debut season in Major League Soccer. He ranks in the top-5 in the league in both those categories as well as shots and shots on goal.
New York City FC limited the Atomic Ant to three shots (one on target) in the Club’s 2-0 win on June 20 at BMO Field.
“I thought we did a pretty good job to get numbers around him and get him off the ball as much as possible,” Wingert said. “He’s one of the most dangerous attacking players in the league, for sure. We’re going to have to continue to keep putting pressure on him and the rest of their team. Our best defense is our offense when we can keep the ball in their half and create chances.”
Added Kreis: “It’s never about an individual. It’s about an entire team mentality. It’s about certain groups of players knowing where he is even when we have the ball so we’re putting ourselves in good positions to defend if the ball turns over because he’s a guy they’ll look for right away.”