Despite winning just one time in their last eight matches, New York City FC can clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot on Saturday night with a victory over the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium.
Third-place NYCFC (14-8-7, 49 points) hold a 10-point lead over the sixth-place Impact (12-14-3, 39) with five games to go. The teams’ first two meetings were at Yankee Stadium, starting with a 1-1 draw in March. The Blues won the second meeting, 3-0, on July 11, outshooting the Impact, 23-3, including 7-0 in shots on target.
But New York, which has had a 14-day break since a 1-1 tie with D.C. United, has struggled to put the ball in the net recently. The Blues fired 27 shots in a 1-0 loss to New England and had 31 shots against D.C.
“We could score many goals in the last two games, but the football is (sometimes) like that,” NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent told the team’s website. “Maybe we (shoot) just five or six times in Montreal, and we are able to score three goals.
“The best way to win is to play well. And we’ve played well the last two games. Yes, we need to be more clinical in front of the goal.”
Montreal, which holds a four-point lead over D.C. United for the final playoff spot, hasn’t had any troubles putting the ball in the net lately, coming in off back-to-back blowout wins over the New York Red Bulls (3-0) and Philadelphia Union (4-1). But the Impact still must play at D.C. United, who have a game in hand, next weekend.
“Against a team that we are fighting with for the playoffs, this is very important for us,” Montreal coach Remi Garde told MLSsoccer.com.
“The opponent is the opponent at this time of the year,” Impact forward Quincy Amarikwa said. “The focus needs to be on us. Everything else is noise.”
Forwards David Villa and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi lead NYCFC in goals (11 each), while midfielder Maxi Morales leads in assists (13). Midfielder Ignacio Piatti leads Montreal in both goals (13) and assists (12).
—Field Level Media