New York City FC at DC United: Match Preview

New York City FC will try to make it three wins in a row and remain in contention for one of the top two spots in the Eastern Conference when they face D.C. United at RFK Stadium Sunday at 3 p.m. ET in the penultimate game of the MLS regular season. 

PHOTOS: Training Preparing for DC United

NYCFC remained busy during the international break and played their first-ever match in Mexico, dropping a 2-1 result to Necaxa at Estadio Victoria.

NYCFC has lost just once in their last five MLS contests and are coming off a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. David Villa struck for a brace and is tied atop the MLS Golden Boot race with Bradley Wright-Phillips of the Red Bulls with 21 goals. 

Villa’s 39 goals in his first two seasons are the most by any player in the league during that span.

The victory in Houston was NYCFC’s MLS-best seventh away from home.

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While NYCFC (14-9-9) are one of three teams in the Eastern Conference to have already booked their postseason tickets, D.C. United (10-9-13) is battling for one of the final three spots in the East and is currently in fifth, just four points ahead of the playoff line. 

D.C. United is unbeaten in their last five and has won three straight, including a 2-1 win over Toronto FC at BMO Field. Lamar Neagle struck for a brace in the victory.

“I think it’s a team that has a lot of confidence at the moment, the way they played, the fact they have won a lot of games lately,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “Their confidence is really high. You have players like [Luciano] Acosta, I think he’s in a really good period, Patrick [Mullins] scoring goals and [Lloyd] Sam looks like he’s finding his form again.”

This is the third, and final, regular season meeting between the two sides with NYCFC winning both contests. On May 8 at RFK Stadium, Villa and Khiry Shelton scored four minutes apart in the second half in a 2-0 victory.

At Yankee Stadium on Sept. 1, NYCFC claimed a wild 3-2 victory with David Villa scoring a late equalizer, followed by an even later Frank Lampard brace.

“It will be a big challenge for us,” Vieira said. “I’m really looking forward to it because it’s the type of games we want to play. It’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to make it difficult on them as well because we have a lot to play [for] and we are exciting. We have to prepare this week well.”

NYCFC returns to Yankee Stadium for fan appreciation day and the regular season finale against Columbus Crew SC Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. ET.