Who wants to win the East?
Hey, yes, Third Rail Supporters Club, you have the floor:
New Jersey, you’ve just learned what happens When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong.
The hard pivot to the playoffs will come in time. But for now, all eyes are on RFK Stadium Sunday afternoon. Hometown DC United were victimized six weeks ago in the Bronx thanks to some sublime late-game kinetics from Frank Lampard, and will look to take some pleasure from knocking NYCFC out of contention for a first-round playoff bye. They’ll have every chance to do it: the Black and Red are undefeated in their last five.
“Another difficult game,” New York City gaffer Patrick Vieira said at training this week. “I think when you look at their record the last few games, it’s been really good. But we’re in a really good period. We’re going to go there and try to control the tempo of the game.”
On 21 goals, City skipper David Villa sits even with Red Bulls triggerman Bradley Wright-Phillips in the race for the 2016 Golden Boot. With Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco five goals behind in third place and questionable to return this weekend from a quad strain, the race will almost certainly come down to Guaje or BWP.
Let’s just hope, for the Red Bulls’ sake, that they don’t put up an online poll about who will win.
DC aren’t allergic to scoring goals, either. Attacking man Lamar Neagle has six goals and a pair of assists over his last seven games, and former NYCFC poacher Patrick Mullins is an ever-present danger in the box, having never met a bouncing ball or a deflection he didn’t like. Given the Blues’ perpetual struggles in the air, the visitors will have to cross their fingers and clutch a forest’s worth of rabbits’ feet when Mullins goes vertical.
But given broader trends — in four meetings to date, NYCFC have won three of them — fortune favors the firepower. And only one of these teams has David Villa.
“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s the type of games we want to play,” Vieira told NYCFC.com. “It’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to make it difficult on them as well because we have a lot to play [for] and we are exciting.”
Exciting! Imagine daring even to whisper that word re: NYCFC around this time last year.