New York City FC roared back into form with a deserved 1-0 win over Montreal Impact on Wednesday night.
Here’s Managing Editor Mark Booth with five things we learned…
Don’t let the narrow scoreline fool you, NYCFC were more than good value for this victory.
Even Montreal Head Coach Mauro Biello conceded this face in his post-game press conference.
For his counterpart Patrick Vieira, the fact that his side couldn’t add to Jack Harrison’s 29th minute goal was a source of frustration but, following a three-game run without a victory, this was a welcome three points.
NYCFC outshot Montreal 22 to 10 and put six on frame in a confident, expressive performance which really warranted more than just the one goal.
However, at this business end of the season, it’s all about getting the wins, especially with a rampant Atlanta United side hot on our heels…
Competition for Places
Following a night where Ronald Matarrita and Yangel Herrera both returned from lengthy lay-offs, Vieira will be happy to have some more options going into the final straight of the Regular Season… and not just for the quality they bring.
Winning teams almost always require competition for places in order to bring out the best of the whole squad and this was evident on Wednesday.
Not only does a deep squad allow you to rotate to keep things fresh, you have players fighting for minutes, meaning you have to take your opportunities or the next guy is coming up behind you for your shirt.
As more and more players return to the fold, it’s getting harder and harder to predict Patrick’s XI for matches and that can only be a good thing for our hopes for 2017.
Jack in the Box
Vieira was understandably effusive in his praise for Harrison after watching the Englishman score the winning goal and put in a performance which earned him the NYCFC.com Man of the Match award.
Starting out the night in the no.9 role, he stretched Montreal to breaking point with incisive dribbling, clever interplay and, of course, that emphatic finish to take him into double figures for the season.
Jack has really stepped up in his Sophomore season to become one of the most reliable contributors in this squad but his Head Coach still believes that there’s even more to come from the 20-year old.
He told reporters: "He's a better player today than he was last year," said Patrick. "He's working really hard for the team and when we played the way we played today, we're always creating chances, and he scored a fantastic goal.
"There's no doubt about his talent, but he needs to keep working hard to keep developing his talent."
The Chasing Pack
Talk about a vital win…
Both Atlanta United and Chicago Fire, NYCFC’s two main rivals for the bye to the Eastern Conference semis, both picked up big wins in this midweek slate of matches.
Anything less than a victory for NYC would have left some serious question marks, especially seeing as Atlanta keep casting aside everyone in their paths.
Now it’s onto the Windy City to face a Chicago side who will be out for revenge after their defeat to ten-man NYC earlier this summer.
It’s days away but it’s already feeling like another big, big game…
Moving On Up
Just some figures to finish on.
NYCFC have now won 16 games this season, earned 55 points and kept seven clean sheets – all good for best-ever seasonal totals.
We’ve also now won six road games which is as many as any other team in the entire league.
While the season will likely be judged on events after our final Regular Season game on October 22, there’s no question we’re moving in the right direction.