NYCFC must keep focus on Philadelphia ahead of next week’s Derby
If you’ve watched any of the recent Premier League matches, you may have already seen an advertisement for NYC FC’s upcoming derby match with the New York Red Bulls. Such is the hype around this fixture that even despite their match at Philadelphia this weekend, that at the very least, those tasked with marketing the club already have their eyes on their New York rivals.
The significance of the derby has certainly picked up this season. Last season, there was little at stake other than the obvious matter of local pride, as NYC FC comfortably finished ahead of their Hudson River rivals in the Eastern Conference standing.
However, now that they sit level on points with just ten regular season matches remaining, the impact that this result could have on where the two sides finish come the end of the season undoubtedly amplifies the attention on the match. It hasn’t been since the 2016 season that the two sides have vied for a place at the summit of the Eastern Conference.
However, until their match at Philadelphia ends, Domenec Torrent and his players really ought to leave any focus on the Red Bulls to those in charge of marketing at the club. In order for their match against the Red Bulls to carry such weight, NYC must be sure to maintain their level of performances against sides at the lower end of the conferences. Their ability to keep their focus throughout the course of the season is what propels the significance of this match beyond simply a local rivalry.
It’s one thing when a win against the Union would offer the Bronx based side the opportunity to jump ahead of the Red Bulls this late in the season, albeit with a match in hand. It is another when Torrent’s men would realistically need to collect all three points against their rivals just to prevent a large gap from opening between the two sides.
To their credit, NYC FC have maintained the quality of play on a fairly consistent basis. This is the expectation for a side expecting to make a deep run in the playoffs, but the fact that NYC FC have not dropped a level is slightly more impressive given the managerial change in the middle of the season.
Torrent may well need his side at their best when they take on Philadelphia, Saturday. Despite a seventeen point gap between the two sides, Philadelphia’s current fifth place position is an allusion to their quality. Their place in the playoffs is not completely secure and they will have plenty to play for on Saturday due to that as well.
Looking beyond their upcoming two matches, however, NYC FC should look to finish the regular season on a strong note, regardless of their current level of comfort in the conference. Last season, they struggled towards the end of the regular season, and they ended up 4-1 down to Columbus at the end of the first leg of their post season. It can sometimes be difficult for a team to suddenly boost their level, and Torrent will want to ensure that his side does not end up in that situation.
For the present time, however, NYC should have their minds on their match at Philadelphia. As big as the local derby is, it can wait another day or two.
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