Tommy McNamara on the 2-0 win in Kansas City: “It kind of sets the tone for us for the season, which is the right way to start.” (Photo courtesy of MLS)
By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK — Fresh off its impressive season-opening 2-0 triumph at Sporting Kansas City, New York City FC is putting the finishing touches on its Sunday home opener full of confidence.
In fact, City just might have assembled the best team in its short four-year history.
“I think so,” midfielder Tommy McNamara said. “We’ve brought in another 10 new players that have helped strengthen the squad. They are all great people but very talented as well. We feel very good about our roster this year and our team and so now it’s about proving it on the field. We had a very good opening day, but that’s only one game.”
The next game is against the LA Galaxy, which won its season opener against the Portland Timbers last week, at Yankee Stadium Sunday at 5 p.m.
NYCFC, which has been eliminated in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals two years running, is considered one of the elite teams in the league. City has been ranked at No. 1 or near the top of many power rankings this young season.
“There is a noise outside as a contender for us because I think people are seeing the way the football club has been working the last two years,” head coach Patrick Vieira said. “I think comes with success because the last two years we had a clear direction about we wanted to do and the football club we want to build. I think the result we had the last couple of years and that’s why people are talking about us to be one of the team that has the potential to win it. Of course, it is always good.
“It’s a pressure for us and we have to put that pressure on our shoulder. But at the same time we have to realize how difficult it is because there are a lot of good teams in this league and we are just one of the teams that can do it.”
Still, NYCFC could not have asked of getting off to a better start, winning at KC, where the hosts lost but once during the regular season in 2017.
“It kind of sets the tone for us for the season,” McNamara said, “which is the right way to start. It was in my opinion, a pretty convincing performance all around. There were moments when it became difficult, of course, but it was very positive performance. It’s something to really build upon.”
Vieira realized there were 33 games remaining in the regular season as he looked ahead to the Galaxy.
“It’s only one game. There is still a long way to go,” he said. “And of course, to win in Kansas City, which was a really tough game, a difficult game for us, especially the last half an hour, going there, not conceding a goal, managing to in win two-nil, it is really good for the team’s confidence.
“When you win, it’s always good to come back to next week. Everything wasn’t perfect. We suffered a lot. We have to keep working because the game against LA will be even more difficult. We have to be prepared really mentally to face a tough game and if not, we will suffer.”