Playoff Stretch For NYCFC: A Goal And Defense


The fans are not coming out in force at Yankee Stadium for NYCFC and that could be attributed to playing most of their home games across the Hudson River at Red Bulls Arena. The Yankees have the final call when their turf is available for NYCFC.

But the minimal crowd was there again Wednesday evening in the Bronx. They believe in their team that is fighting for a playoff position in the MLS East Conference. After a 1-0 win over Chicago, NFCFC moved into fourth place as their playoff position got stronger.

Though this playoff run will probably come down to their final two games, it could possibly be decided on November 7, also known as decision day and final season games of the MLS season.

Philadelphia is three points ahead of NYCFC in the standings and visits the Bronx on that decision day with many possible outcomes between now and then. What’s encouraging is, after their second consecutive win without allowing a goal, NYCFC is showing their defensive strengths down this important stretch.

It was also almost zero to zero in goal chances, but I think we lifted the level in the second half.” said coach Ronny Deila. “We had more intensity in the pressure and won the ball in better situations. We got the goal and kept a clean sheet. We have also been really good defensively and to win on a day like this is very very good.”

Valentin Castellanos accounted for the only score off a penalty kick in the 51st minute. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson recorded his ninth shutout, one away from a career high and his five saves kept Chicago from nearly taking a lead.

That’s two straight shutouts for Johnson and a team leading 15th goal for Castellanos.

The coach said there is no reason to roar with two games remaining, however, NYCFC has every reason to be optimistic as they approach their final two games. As Chicago tried to fuel their fire Wednesday night, Johnson again came up strong.

Perhaps the coach will roar soon.

I’m just eager to get to the playoffs and then you will get the roar again, that is the most important thing for me,” Deila said. “We don’t have anything to celebrate right now with two games to go. For me I will do it when I feel it. We are in a situation where we still haven’t achieved anything.”

So after a brief October struggle and a setback, NYCFC put themselves in the position of hosting a possible playoff game at home. There has been a turnaround the past three games.

Yes, we did come from a very negative losing streak, that all of the teams in the world, I believe, go through,” midfielder Santiago Rodriguez said. “We have responded very well to that negative losing streak we have had in these last matches by winning. Today and the past days we are winning very easily.”

He said the two important wins remain for NYCFC to host a first round playoff game at home, and the defense is confident towards their attack.

Our defense has been very solid defense, honestly, we haven’t worked on anything specifically. We just improved our focus and have been more alert to our opponents’ attacks. Honestly, I have noticed a positive change and every day my teammates have been improving.”

Chicago played a different type of game than NYCFC had in their previous 6-0 win over DC United. Coach Deila used the same lineup and after the first half made those necessary adjustments.

The defense went to work and did their roar and that’s significant to keep pace down this stretch.

We learned something today and that’s the most important thing,” Deila said.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook,com/Rich Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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