Mon, 17 Jun 2019

NYCFC can clinch playoff spot with win over Impact

Sports Xchange
21 Sep 2018, 16:16 GMT+10

Win and you're in.

Looking to break out of a funk, New York City FC can punch its ticket to the playoffs for a third straight season when it visits the Montreal Impact on Saturday night at Saputo Stadium.

Struggling of late, New York (14-8-7) heads to Montreal winless in its last five games and has only one win in its last eight matches. While dominant at home, the club is 4-7-3 on the road -- its lowest win total away from Yankee Stadium since its inaugural season in 2015.

Yet despite its recent woes, New York City FC remains third in the Eastern Conference with a five- and six-point advantage on Columbus and Philadelphia, respectively, and sits 10 points up on the Impact.

"The best way to win is to try to play well," NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent told the team's website. "And we've played well the last two games. Yes, we need to be more clinical in front of the goal."

History is in New York's favor against Montreal. NYCFC is unbeaten in its previous five matches against the Impact and has won all three visits north of the border.

Torrent's group, which is coming off a two-week break, could also get a welcome boost up front for Saturday's tilt, the first of three in a span of seven days for NYCFC. Sidelined since suffering injuries in late August, midfielder Jesus Medina and forward Jo Inge Berget are expected to return.

"We're refreshed," he told "We have six more players for Montreal, which is big for us because it's not easy playing three games in a row with six or seven players less."

The Impact (12-14-3) head into the match a confident bunch. Montreal scored four unanswered goals after an early tally by the Union en route to a 4-1 win in Philadelphia. It helped the Impact keep pace with the fifth-place Union and maintain their four-point lead on seventh-place D.C. United.

"It was a massive win for us," goalkeeper Evan Bush told reporters after the game. "We gave away a few points to these guys earlier this season and if we didn't lock up three points, it would be hard to catch these guys. They're still ahead of us, but if you look at their schedule, they have some tough games with a lot of travel."

Montreal's once-struggling offense appears to have found its legs in recent weeks, scoring seven times in its last two games. It'll look to maintain that success against a side averaging 1.3 goals-against.

"My focus is on us so that we can be at the maximum of our abilities," defender Rod Fanni told the team's website. "When we focus on our strengths, we have a better chance of winning games. We control our destiny, so why look to the left or right when all we have to do is look at ourselves. We know that we can beat any team."

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