New York City FC made it six wins from their last seven games to cement their place at the top of the East on Saturday.
Here’s Five Points from another winning day out in the Bronx, presented by Etihad Airways…
There’s no points awarded in soccer for style and, at this business end of the season, results are paramount.
That’s why NYCFC walked away so satisfied with the three points after overcoming fatigue and the San Jose Earthquakes to make it seven games undefeated.
City are hitting their straps at the perfect time in 2019, ascending through the standings through a red-hot summer and carrying that form into the back straight of the Regular Season.
With four games still to come, there is time for that to change before the postseason, but right now there’s no team in MLS in stronger form than our Boys in Blue.
Coming off the back of two bruising and tight home games vs. New England and Toronto FC with depleted numbers, this really was a statement win, even if NYC have played more complete games over the course of the campaign.
With tired bodies and tired minds, the players got the job done and can enjoy a couple of days off before preparations for the trip to Dallas commence.
This latest victory for the Boys in Blue was an important one in terms of the postseason.
With four games to spare, Dome Torrent’s side have ensured that they will open up their fourth MLS Playoffs tilt in New York.
The win puts NYCFC on 57 points, which is already the joint-most ever accumulated by the Club in a single season (joint with 2017), meaning any points now gained in the next four will make this the team’s best-ever regular season return.
LAFC’s 1-1 draw with Philadelphia may mean that NYC just run out of time to challenge for the Supporters Shield but the team have certainly put themselves in with a good shot at competing for the East.
Not that Dome or the players will be thinking about that. All season it’s been a case of focusing on the next opponent and that won’t change, with FC Dallas up next on the road and another three points on the table.
Key to the win was Dome once again finding the right approach to down an opponent.
There are few teams in the league with more pronounced playing styles than San Jose, with their man-marking and pressing game earning many high-profile scalps through 2019.
In order not to fall victim to this obdurate approach, Torrent stationed Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Gary Mackay-Steven in inside forward positions, tucked inside the overlapping full-backs, and it worked perfectly, creating space through the middle by pulling defenders out of position, leading to both home goals.
For the first, it was Keaton Parks who strode through the center, while Tajouri-Shradi did it for the second, perfectly executing their Head Coach’s plan to the letter.
Through this excellent run, NYCFC have won all kinds of matches in all kinds of styles, which speaks volumes for the man who sets out the masterplan.
Speaking of Parks, this will be a game he won’t be forgetting for a while.
The Texan netted his first MLS goal to equalize on 40’, finishing off a move he started with that driving run through the center of the Earthquakes midfield.
While there was a stroke of fortune that the ball rebounded back in his direction, Keaton earned that good luck by following up and ensuring that he forced the ball over the line after Gary Mackay-Steven was denied by the San Jose goalkeeper.
It wasn’t just the goal, Keaton was an influential presence through, dropping in to add an extra man to the defense and getting forward too with regularity.
In Dome’s words: “It’s very important for us to have a player like Keaton - he played amazing. When we need him to play no.6, no.8, no.10, he can do it."
Alexandru Mitriță scored in back-to-back games this week, netting the opener vs. Toronto and the eventual game-winner in this one vs. San Jose.
The Romanian is really hitting new levels in recent weeks, connecting with his teammates and looking like a goal threat at all times.
NYCFC had been on a run of eight Maxi Moralez-less games without a win, so it was up to other members of the team to step up and be the matchwinner.
This time it was Mitri who commanded the spotlight, dispatching his shot with deadly precision off the immaculate assist from Tajouri-Shradi.
It was his ninth goal of the season and he’ll be hungry for more over the coming weeks…