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New York City FC’s focus on playoffs, not Supporters’ Shield

NYCFC visits Columbus Crew on Saturday still six points back of Atlanta United for the regular-season crown.

David Villa has scored goals in two of

David Villa has scored goals in two of three games since returning to the pitch. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Katharine Lotze

Last week, New York City FC put on a valiant effort in their 1-1 draw against their cross-river rival New York Red Bulls in the Bronx.

On paper, NYCFC should have lost the match, but they salvaged a point in the standings to keep pace. The Blues enter the weekend third in the East and still in striking distance of MLS’ top-team, Atlanta United, for the Supporters’ Shield. The focus, however, remains winning the league title.

“I think about the next game and the next game,” said head coach Domènec Torrent at Wednesday’s training session. “I want to win the regular season. But the most important thing is to be focused on the MLS. Because in the end, if you are able to win the MLS, you will be champions.”

With just over a month left before the postseason, NYCFC (14-6-6, 48 points) is on pace to reach the playoffs for the third straight season and are just six points shy of tying Atlanta for the top spot in the East. Entering Saturday’s match as winners of one of their last five at the Columbus Crew, NYCFC will need a win as they start another streak of three games in seven days.

“The focus of our players is always on the next game,” Torrent said. “That is the whole focus. What would you rather win, the MLS or the regular season? Of course we will try to win both.”

The Blues will be without both midfielders Eloi Amagat and Ebenzer Ofori, who were both shown red-cards in last Wednesday’s Hudson River Derby. Jo Inge Berget, who was injured early in the second half and Jesus Medina, who was injured at Philadelphia, will remain out for the next few weeks.

They should, however, have the services of Valentin Castellanos, who missed last week’s match with an injury. More importantly, David Villa enters the matchup in Columbus having scored in two of three games since his return to the pitch.

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