NYC FC form a concern
One of the great flaws in the format of the MLS is a lack of emphasis on the regular season. Qualification for the playoff spots is often the only agenda of many sides in the league. Once it is relatively clear whose season continues into the playoffs, the overall quality tends to drop.
Many pundits have suggested a promotion/relegation system. The idea is that despite failure to reach the playoffs spots, teams at the bottom of the table have an incentive to perform in order to remain in the league.
At the top end of the table, the league can do little to ensure that the level of play remains as high from teams whose place in the playoffs is certain. A top two finish is always appealing, as it offers fewer matches in route to the final, but between the four spots beneath, there is little competition. Teams could drop a level with their performances and face no serious consequence.
However, it is important for most teams to enter the playoffs on a high note. That is why NYC FC’s form is a concern as the regular season draws to a close.
Domenec Torrent’s side are well secure in the top six of the Eastern Conference with a fifteen point lead over seventh placed New England, who defeated them at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. They also sit comfortably in the top three, five points above Columbus and eight above the Philadelphia Union though both have a match in hand. They could also reasonably catch the Red Bulls or Atlanta with still a few matches left to play.
Though NYC’s recent results won’t do them too much harm at this stage in the season, they still should aim to finish the regular season on a strong note as the playoffs draw closer, and at the moment they are not heading in that direction. The Bronx based side have collected just one point from their last four fixtures, and have won just once in their last seven.
Domenec Torrent must do what he can to prevent his men from entering the playoffs in this sort of form. Though one would expect NYC to raise their game as the occasion is far more significant, a run of poor results could raise one or two doubts in the locker room. It may not seem that significant a factor, but NYC would do better to end the regular season on a high and to begin their post season with confidence rather than uncertainty.
They may find it difficult to suddenly raise the quality of their performances for the playoffs. Last season should serve as a reminder of this. Despite finishing second in the Eastern Conference, the Yankee Stadium based side had won just two of their final seven regular season matches, and found themselves 4-1 down after the first leg of their playoff against Columbus.
New York City have six games left until the playoffs. While they will likely need to win at least two of those matches just to confirm their place in the playoffs, they must raise their game if they wish to do more than simply qualify.
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