Head Coach Patrick Vieira has a lot to be happy about after his side’s latest victory.
NYCFC is now riding a four-match win streak after their win over Minnesota United FC, and for Vieira, this triumph was even better than the last.
“I enjoyed this game more than the last one against the Red Bulls,” he said.
That was a match in which NYCFC took control early and didn’t let go until the final whistle in a dominating 2-0 performance.
Against Minnesota, it wasn’t quite the same story. An early goal for the away side forced the Blues to right the ship, and right the ship they did. Alexander Callens leveled the score in the 38th minute, and Jack Harrison and David Villa both added tallies after the halftime break. That kind of resilience is huge for Vieira. To him, it speaks to how the leaders in the squad are doing their jobs.
“You need leaders in the team to take responsibility,” explained Vieira.
“You look at the way David played up front, you look at Ring and Yangel in the midfield, and Tommy.
“You look at the back, how we are solid defensively. When we play the way we played, keeping the game really simple, that is what gives us confidence.”
But it’s not just the veterans and the World Cup winners who are doing their part. Everyone is buying into the club’s philosophy, and it’s paying off on the field.
The gaffer elaborated: “We have a lot of character. I think the balance is really good between the way we want to play and the character we have in the team.
“This group is challenging each other every day in training. Everyone wants to play. Nobody accepts being on the bench, and this is what I want. This group of players, they play the same way they’ve been training every single day, and that is the reason we are ready to compete.”
More than anything, that balance has started to bring about real consistency in the squad’s performances. That four-match win streak has featured largely comprehensive performances, and the playmakers are making plays.
Vieira wasn’t hesitant to single out one of those playmakers in particular. Jack Harrison, who followed up his wonderful performance at the Red Bulls by scoring the game winner tonight, once again drew plaudits.
“I’m quite surprised he didn’t receive any calls, at least for the under 21s, he needs to at least be looked at,” said Vieira.
Vieira is, of course, referring to the England U-21s, who just won the Toulon Tournament. But while his speculation on Harrison’s future seems to be that the sky is the limit, he expressed much more pragmatism when speaking about the club’s immediate future.
After tonight, NYCFC is just two points off the top in the Eastern Conference heading into the second half of the season, but Vieira knows there’s a long way to go.
“It was a big win for us tonight,” he acknowledged. “We have a day off tomorrow, and then we start thinking about Vancouver on Saturday.
“My job is to find the right words to challenge the players. There are three points on the table and we want to take them.”