After clinching a first-ever berth into the MLS Cup playoffs, New York City FC will look to build on that momentum when they take on the Houston Dynamo Friday at 8 p.m. at BBVA Compass Stadium.
NYCFC stretched their franchise-best home unbeaten streak to seven games with a comprehensive 4-1 win over the Chicago Fire last Friday at Yankee Stadium. A day later, the club officially booked their postseason ticket.
“I told the team that it is very difficult to get this,” said NYCFC captain David Villa, who netted a brace against the Fire and now has 19 goals on the season, one behind Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips in the MLS Golden Boot race. “It’s good for the team, but its not done.”
Now the focus for NYCFC shifts from making the playoffs to closing out the season as one of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference to avoid the one-game knockout round match.
“We worked really hard to get where we are, but this is just a small step from what we want to achieve as a football club,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “We are satisfied, of course, but that’s not enough for us. There’s more desire from our side to do better.”
With just three games to play in the regular season, NYCFC heads to Houston level on points with the Red Bulls and Toronto FC, who face Orlando SC Wednesday night, atop the Eastern Conference.
NYCFC takes on a Houston team that is last in the Western Conference, but the Dynamo has just one loss in their last seven games and back-to-back wins over Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers. Mauro Manotas struck for a hat trick in a 3-1 win over the Timbers.
“Our approach to the game is not going to change. We prepare this week to face a good team who are playing better than they used to play at the beginning of the season,” Vieira said. “They have players who are capable of making the difference by themselves. If we are not prepared mentally we’re not going to have any chance to win that game.”
This is only NYCFC’s second all-time meeting with the Dynamo, and first in Houston. The teams played to a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium last May 30. After Will Bruin put the visitors in front in the 16th minute, Villa leveled from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.
After facing Houston, NYCFC heads to D.C. United on October 16 before closing out the regular season at Yankee Stadium against the Columbus Crew SC on October 23 at 4 p.m.