New York City FC can clinch playoff spot Saturday in Montreal

Coming off a two-week hiatus, New York City FC is ready for the first part of their final home stretch …

Coming off a two-week hiatus, New York City FC is ready for the first part of their final home stretch when they travel to the Montreal Impact on Saturday night. The two weeks gave NYCFC necessary time to rest and, more importantly, recover from injuries.

“We’re refreshed,” head coach Domènec Torrent said at Wednesday’s training session. “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.”

To make things a bit more interesting, despite going winless for the last five straight matches, third-place NYCFC (14-8-7, 49 points) can clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Impact, who currently hold the sixth and final seed in the East.

The Blues have won their last two matchups against the Impact, including a 3-0 win at Yankee Stadium on July 11, and are unbeaten against them through the last five matches (3-0-2). However, Montreal enters Saturday’s match on a solid run of their own, going unbeaten in five of their last six matches.

Saturday heralds the beginning of another stretch of three matches in a seven-day span, this time with two matches on the road. NYCFC will stop in the Bronx next Wednesday against the Chicago Fire.

“[Montreal] have good form right now,” Torrent said. “The most important thing for us is their counters. It’s not easy. It was not easy here, but we were able to avoid the counters at Yankee Stadium.”

NYCFC is expecting a huge boost to the lineup, especially on the attacking front, with the returns of Jo Inge Berget and Jesus Medina. Berget has been out of the lineup since leaving the Hudson River Derby match against the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 22 with an injury shortly after subbing on. Medina left with an injury late in City’s 2-0 loss at the Philadelphia Union last month.

“Jo is ready to play 55 minutes,” Torrent said. “That is why the whole team is happy because we have more players to play three games in a row.”

Jeff Weisinger