NYCFC eyes first playoff elimination win vs. Philadelphia 

For the first time in NYCFC’s short history, the club will host the knockout round of the MLS playoffs Wednesday night in the Bronx against the Philadelphia Union. The Boys in Blue clinched the third seed in the Eastern Conference on Sunday after defeating the Union 3-1 in the regular season finale. Here are three things to look for in Wednesday’s match:

Cool, calm, confident

NYCFC appeared to be in control of the pitch in Sunday’s win — so poised, in fact, you would never imagine they went winless in 10 of their last 12 matches. They’ll need to keep that same levelheaded demeanor if they’re going to win on Sunday.

“It is difficult for you in 90 minutes,” head coach Domenec Torrent told the media at Monday’s training. “That is the reason why the mentality is very important and to keep calm. Against Philly, we have one opportunity. Just one.”

Torrent also said on Monday that he plans to use a similar game plan going forward, for Wednesday’s knockout and beyond.

Score first, score often

One of the biggest keys to NYCFC’s victory over the Union on Sunday was the ability to create chances and score early. Maxime Chanot capitalized on a header off a Maxi Moralez corner kick in the eighth minute to put City ahead 1-0 — the first lead they had in the first 15 minutes of a match since David Villa scored in the 15th minute of their win at Toronto back on Aug. 12th.

Their winless trend since that match saw several one-goal performances, including a shutout loss at the Union  in September.

Sunday’s match was also their first multi-goal performance since that win at Toronto.

Kick them while they’re down

Philadelphia doesn’t look like the strongest side entering the knockout. From Austin Trusty’s own goal in the10th minute, to an apparent beef between the Union’s Cory Burke and Borek Dockal, which led to Burke crying as he was benched at the half for Ilsinho,  to both Dockal and Burke being separated after the match, evidence abounds.

The Union also ended its regular season going winless in three of the last five, including back-to-back losses entering Wednesday.

As much as NYCFC struggled throughout the second half of its campaign, it lost just once at Yankee Stadium all season and has never lost to the Union at home.