New York City FC are heading into the postseason on positive footing after Sunday night’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia Union.
Here’s Managing Editor Mark Booth with Five Points from a near-perfect night at Yankee Stadium.
The permutations were relatively simple for the Boys in Blue on Decision Day: Win and third place was secured, allowing us to remain in the Bronx for our first-ever Knockout Round match.
Inside ten first minutes, City had one foot over the line thanks to Maxime Chanot’s first of the season and an own goal from Auston Trusty.
Although Cory Burke would hit back four minutes later, the concession had little negative impact on Dome Torrent’s side as they continued to dominate the football match and repeatedly asked questions of Andre Blake in the Union goal.
When David Villa forced in his 14th of the season at the second time of asking before the interval, the points were all but assured and, on Fan Appreciation Day, the supporters could enjoy the second half with only one major moment of stress to endure (more on that later…)
Like 2017, NYCFC face an immediate Decision Day rematch in the Playoffs, though this time it will be against Philadelphia rather than Columbus.
The Crew’s late win over Minnesota meant we avoided a repeat of last year’s Conference semifinal and instead look ahead to a first postseason meeting between NYCFC and The Union on All Hallows Eve.
NYC’s record against Philly on home turf is good but a recent defeat at the Talen Energy Stadium should serve notice that Jim Curtin’s side are not to be taken lightly.
Both Regular Season encounters have been spicy affairs too, with a couple of notable flashpoints, so it could well be another attritional night where we’ll need to keep our heads and play our normal game to come through.
One of the big reasons fans could savor a relatively breezy Decision Day was Yangel Herrera.
The Venezuelan’s name was on the lips of many leaving Yankee Stadium on Sunday night as the youngster served up a timely reminder of the strengths he bestows upon this NYCFC team when fit.
Restored to the starting midfield for the first time in five months, it was like Yangel had never been away as he put out fires when his team were out of possession and also used his extensive passing range to create chaos for the Philadelphia backline all night long.
That holy midfield trinity of Herrera, Moralez and Ring was purring on Sunday night, with Yangel gliding through the 90’ with ease and Maxi enjoying the benefit of 20 minutes off at the end.
No team left standing in the postseason will relish the prospect of facing off against this trio, in this sort of form.
As has been the case throughout his two seasons at NYCFC, when the team needed Sean Johnson: he was there.
The big man was a little unfortunate to concede a second half penalty but he came up with a huge paw to turn Fafa Picoult’s shot wide and sent Yankee Stadium into raptures.
It was a stunning save, especially for one so tall, requiring Sean to get down low with a powerful hand to turn what was a perfectly fine penalty around the post.
If that one had gone in, we could have been set for a nervy last 20’ but, as ever, Sean was there to alleviate the pressure and earned his big celebration with the fans after the save.
Dare to Dream
New York City has always been a place where you could dream big…
MLS history is packed with champions who rode the rails of momentum to glory plus, unlike in previous postseason campaigns, City starts in the BX with no deficit to chase and an opportunity to get that first Playoffs win under our belts at home.
Over recent weeks, glass-half-full, optimistic NYCFC fans have been clinging to the idea that once-healthy, and with a fair wind, this team is still a match for anyone in the league.
Sunday night’s match will likely put some wind behind those sails, though Dome will be emphasizing that, though the opposition will be the same, Wednesday is a new, unique occasion which will require calm heads and steady feet.