Gary Mackay-Steven: “We just got another chance. We were annoyed it was out of our hands with the results in the first three games.” (Photo courtesy of MLS)
By Michael Lewis
Just how many 1-2 teams can a second chance at making things right at a tournament?
Well, not many, but add New York City FC to the list.
NYCFC was ranked 16th and reached the knockout round of the MLS Is Back Tournament by becoming the fourth and final third place wildcard side. City will take on Toronto FC in the Round of 16 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. Sunday at 8:30 p.m.
“We have to use it to our advantage. We just got another chance,” forward Gary Mackay-Steven said during a Friday media conference call. “We were annoyed it was out of our hands with the results in the first three games. So, now we’re still in the tournament. It’s a big opportunity for us. It’s knockout games now. There’s no room for error. It’s a big game against Toronto. We have to just on in, all guns blazing and make the most of it and show that we’re a better team that we’ve shown in the results in previous [matches].”
Mackay-Steven thought NYCFC’s problems was creating and taking more scoring opportunities and getting off to better starts.
“For large parts of the game we have been doing well,” he said. “We need to take more chances. We need to score more goals and maybe start the game a bit quicker, certainly against Orlando and we lost goals early on. Just little tweaks and things, not too much. We need to keep confidence through the team and believe in the way we train and the way we play.
“We’re not too far off. Certainly, we need to score more goals because we have created a lot of chances. I think its coming.”
If NYCFC doesn’t produce it will be eliminated from the competition. Of course, New York felt fortunate just having a chance to prove to the rest of the league and fans that its first-round play was an aberration.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “Obviously there were a few days where we were in limbo thinking, are we going to [advance] in the tournament or going to be packing our bags?”
NYCFC enters the match with a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) against its neighbors to the north.
“We have a high level of motivation to show that we’re a good team to progress,” Mackay-Steven said. “We want to do well in this tournament. We know they’re a good team. We know their strengths. we’ve played them quite a lot in the last two seasons. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time for it to come together and hopefully, it can happen on Sunday.”