Looking to clinch the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference, New York City FC takes on Columbus Crew SC in their regular season finale on Sunday.
NYCFC, unbeaten in seven games at home, needs a win to finish second in the Eastern Conference and earn a bye into the two-legged Eastern Conference semifinals.
Head Coach Patrick Vieira isn’t interested in looking too far ahead, preferring to concentrate on the next 90 minutes.
“I think what is really important is to put our focus on Columbus because it’s important for us to finish second so I don’t think about the playoffs yet,” Vieira said.
“What I will want is to finish the season well and then we can start thinking about the playoffs.”
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NYCFC (14-10-9) is coming off a disappointing 3-1 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium last Sunday where David Villa scored our only goal from the penalty spot.
It was his 22nd goal of the season, one behind Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls in the MLS Golden Boot Race.
Villa has netted five times in his last three matches.
“Second [place] is always better than third and we need to fight for this position for all the things, obviously not playing on Wednesday [in the Knockout Round], you have the chance to go into the semifinal directly, the fact the stadium is good always too,” Villa said. “For everything its better to be in second position.”
Already eliminated from advancing to the playoffs, Columbus Crew SC (8-13-12) fell to the New York Red Bulls, 3-2, last Sunday at Red Bull Arena.
Trailing 3-0, Adam Jahn and Harrison Afful struck 10 minutes apart for the visitors.
“I’m sure they want to finish the league well and finish with a win and I think they will come here with a strong team and try to play and win the game because they want to show they are better than the league table says,” Vieira said.
This is the third meeting between the sides this year. Villa struck for a brace in a 3-2 loss at MAPFRE Stadium. Also in Columbus on August 13, Villa again found the back of the net twice in a 3-3 draw.
“We are really ambitious and we have to show it,” Vieira said. “It’s not just enough to say it. The way we’re working during the week and preparing the game and come into the game against Columbus, we have to show it.”