NYCFC hopes to have more scenes like this, this week, Jesus Medina and Alexander Callens celebrating a home win. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
If you want to get technical, just about every game is must win.
Just some games are more must win than others.
Which brings us to New York City FC, which finds itself in a unique and challenging situation at home this week by hosting an unprecedented three matches in seven days.
Come Saturday night around 9 p.m., if NYCFC can end the week by recording seven out of nine points at Yankee Stadium would be considered a success. Anything else would be disappointing.
Nine points? That would be a dream, especially what lies ahead on the road.
NYCFC (10-4-4, 34 points) enters Wednesday night’s game against the Montreal Impact in second place in the Eastern Conference behind Atlanta United FC (12-4-4, 40) and two points ahead of the third-place Red Bulls (10-5-2, 32).
Because NYCFC is at the mercy of the Yankees’ home schedule, beggars can’t be choosers when searching for dates at Yankee Stadium.
With the Yankees closing out the week on the road prior to the all-star break, this week appeared to be a perfect time to play home games.
Many times teams would play twice within a week, sometimes three times in eight days, especially when Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup games overload the schedule.
But three games in seven days at home? Now, that is practically unheard of for Major League Soccer teams.
Next comes the problem of attracting decent crowd in having back-to-back-to-back home games within a short period of time.
Will the fans come out and support the team, even though it is undefeated (8-0-1) at the stadium this year?
NYCFC certainly got off to a good start with a 1-0 triumph over its rivals, the Red Bulls, Sunday, in front of a season-high crowd of 30,027. A few thousand fans were Red Bulls supporters. The gut feeling here is that Montreal Impact fans won’t come out in droves for this game (who knows, maybe they will surprise us).
So accruing points are a must because the next two games and four out of the next five are on the road after this week’s slate. NYCFC visits Orlando City SC Thursday, July 26 and then Seattle Sounders FC Sunday, July 29 in brutal back-to-back road matches before returning home to host Vancouver Whitecaps FC Saturday, Aug. 4.
Then City hits the road again at Toronto FC Sunday Aug. 12 and at the Philadelphia Union Saturday, Aug. 18 before returning home to welcome the Red Bulls Wednesday, Aug. 22.
Then it’s on the road again at Columbus Crew SC Saturday, Sept. 1.
By Saturday NYCFC will have played 11 out of its 17 regular-season home dates (translated: six left at the stadium) with eight road matches remaining.
With City struggling away from the stadium at 2-4-3, that makes accruing points this week all the more vital.