If there was ever a perfect time for a team to get into their groove, it’s usually in the playoffs.
Following Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in the Bronx, NYCFC is not only healthy — they got their groove back at just the right time.
“This is, maybe, our best moment because we recovered many players and we play much better here,” head coach Domenec Torrent said after Wednesday’s win. “What is important for us is our team getting better, and right now they are in top form.”
As high as the club’s confidence has risen entering the first leg of the conference semis on Sunday against second-seeded Atlanta United, their momentum is just as high thanks to knockout round pressure. NYCFC hasn’t had that entering the playoffs as the second seed the last two years with the first-round bye.
“We have good momentum,” Alex Ring said to the media. “Atlanta hasn’t played for a week now and I remember last year, when we didn’t play the week, it was hard to get into the game in Columbus when they played before us. So maybe we can take advantage, maybe not. It’s hard to say right now.”
NYCFC played well against Atlanta this season. They pulled a pair of draws against the Five Stripes this season — a 2-2 draw in April, and a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium in June — but both results came with Patrick Vieira at the helm. Sunday will be Torrent’s first time taking on Atlanta.
“In this round of the playoffs, it’s important in the coaching first and it will result Sunday,” David Villa said. “We know that it’s a game of 180 minutes and that’s for our fans and for us. We have to make sure that we have a good game on Sunday.”