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NYCFC cannot afford to lose against Chicago

The Blues have dug themselves into hole. Now’s the time to crawl out of it, or else.

MLS: New York City FC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve heard the numbers a thousand times by now. But let’s give you a quick refresher.

New York City FC have won once in their last nine games and are currently on a winless streak that extends six games. In that time, NYCFC have played what is perhaps their worst football since their 2015 inaugural season. Meanwhile, both Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls have pulled away to the point of no return.

It’s gotten extremely ugly. And manager Domé Torrent needs to figure something out. Currently, New York City finds themselves in third place with an even 50 points. Closely behind are the Columbus Crew in fourth with 47 points, followed even more closely by the Philadelphia Union who have 46 points. Positioning is everything, especially with a team like NYCFC that is great at home and definitely not great on the road.

With that said, tomorrow’s match against the Chicago Fire at home is absolutely, 100% a must-win. Ben Sweats knows it, too. If NYCFC loses that game, they open the door for Columbus to walk right in and take 4th place in the Eastern Conference.

But let’s take the standings completely off the table. Let’s talk momentum. Should NYCFC extend their winless streak to 7 straight games and be unable to turn the corner tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium, the doubt can and will start creeping in. Look at the 2017 season as an example. City were playing great football for most of the year. But when it came to that fall backstretch, the Blues began to falter. And despite narrowly locking down the second seed in the East, New York City fanned out to Columbus in the playoffs by way of a 4-3 aggregate score.

If NYCFC cannot find some confidence by pulling out some late-season victories, that kind of anxiety can absolutely be carried into a playoff setting. And that would be no good for a team of City’s caliber, especially when we’ve already seen what they can do.