New York City FC will be heading north of the border to take on the first-place Vancouver Whitecaps in a crucial matchup on Saturday night. With their playoff hopes on the line, David Villa and crew will look to extend their current two-game winning streak in the first matchup between the two clubs.
Here are three keys to look for as NYCFC attempts to take down the West’s top team.
Break road woes
NYCFC has struggled away from Yankee Stadium in their first season in the MLS, playing to a 3-8-3 record. They have not won on the road since a 2-1 victory over Montreal on July 4. Despite having the most points in the Western Conference, Vancouver is just 8-5-1 at BC Place.
A must-win game
With only four games remaining and on the outside looking in to the Eastern Conference playoff picture, NYCFC needs to treat each remaining game as if it is a must-win situation. NYCFC sits in eighth place, five points out of the sixth and final playoff spot held currently by Montreal, but the Impact have played two fewer games. Meanwhile Vancouver sits firmly in the Western Conference playoffs, although are in a tight battle for the conference’s top spot as FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy lurk just one point behind.
Villa, NYCFC’s top scorer, will have his hands full going against the Whitecaps’ top-ranked defense. Vancouver has given up a league-best 31 goals against this season. The former Barcelona star, who leads the team with both 16 goals and eight assists, will need to have a big game if NYCFC can expect to pull off the upset.