David Villa says NYCFC has to bounce back vs. the Seattle Sounders. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
PURCHASE, N.Y. — New York City FC knows that it won’t be champions of the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup.
The team’s elimination from the tournament by Hudson River Derby rivals the Red Bulls made sure of that Wednesday night.
But City has an opportunity to defeat a champion as it hopes to best MLS Cup winner Seattle Sounders at Yankee Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It’s a big challenge for us,” team captain David Villa said Friday. “It’s a big challenge because we lost the other day in the Open Cup. We have to start thinking about the league again and the actual champions, Seattle. Really good team, really good players.”
NYCFC (7-5-3, 23 points) enters the weekend action in third place in the MLS Eastern Conference while the Sounders (5-6-4, 19) are sixth out West.
“We’re going to play the champions which will be a really good test,” City head coach Patrick Vieira said.
Vieira knows that he has some talented players, but he felt his team must work together better.
“There’s a lot of quality in this team but I think if we are not working together and doing well, we’re going to have problems and not just against them [Red Bulls] but against any team in MLS,” he said.
“It will be good for us to go back to basics, to defend as a team and work hard. That will allow us to have more chances to take the three points.”
NYCFC dominated the opening half at Red Bull Arena Wednesday, but that advantage shifted to the Red Bulls in the second half after playmaking midfielder Maxi Moralez left the game at halftime with a calf injury. One of three Designated players on the team, Moralez will not play vs. Seattle because of that injury.
“I think we were quite disciplined, well organized and we had chances to score goals and when we lost that organization and discipline in the second half, we conceded the goal,” Vieira said.
“For that reason, it’s important for us to get our concentration for the 95 minutes because every mistake you make, or any lack of attention, you can concede a chance or concede a goal. That is a good learning process for us.”