NYCFC prepares for quick turnaround against Impact
There were other more ascetically pleasing wins at Yankee Stadium this season, but for New York City FC defender Ben Sweat, Sunday night's 1-0 victory over the rival New York Red Bulls in the 13th edition of the Hudson River Derby was the gold standard for how the team needs to play in the Bronx.
"We went out there and we executed our game plan," Sweat said. "We were physical. We worked hard. And that's how we have to be at home. That's the standard, the work rate. Nothing less than that the rest of the year and we'll see how far we go."
NYCFC (10-4-4) not only avenged two 4-0 losses to the Red Bulls this season -- the second in the U.S. Open Cup -- but also jumped over its rival into second place in the Eastern Conference.
NYCFC is six points behind Atlanta United FC with two games in hand.
One of those games is Wednesday's showdown with a Montreal Impact team that has surged above the playoff line in the East after four consecutive wins.
The short turnaround will not be easy and no doubt there will be roster turnover, especially given that it is NYCFC's second game in four days and part of a stretch when they will play three times in seven days -- all against Eastern Conference opponents.
Midfielder Jonathan Lewis is hoping Sunday's emotional win can catapult NYCFC through this difficult stretch.
"I think it pushes us forward a lot more," he said. "I think it's a big monkey off our back after we just beat them and now we just have to look forward to Wednesday's game and Saturday's game."
Lewis came off the bench to play a pivotal role in NYCFC's win, pressing and then picking off central defender Aaron Long on midfielder Tyler Adams' errant back pass before sliding the ball to midfielder Maxi Moralez for the winning goal five minutes from full time.
The Impact (8-11-0) will arrive in the Bronx full of confidence after a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Stade Saputo.
"It's good. There's a lot of happy faces in the locker room, but we've still got a lot of work to do," Impact defender Chris Duvall said. "There's still maybe seven more games in July. This month is going to be huge for us and we're already looking toward Wednesday."
Midfielder Saphir Taider struck for a brace one minute apart to put Montreal in front 2-0 early in the second half before forward Dominique Badji cut the Rapids' deficit in half in the 78th minute. It snapped a club-record 420-minute shutout streak for the Impact, who have won five of their last six games after losing nine of 10.
Four of those wins, though, came at Stade Saputo. Montreal is 2-8-0 on the road this season and NYCFC is 8-0-1 at home.
"Every game there's a different context, a different challenge within each match, and for us the next one is more about going to a tough place to play against an in-conference opponent, which we haven't been on the road so much of late," Impact defender Daniel Lovitz said.
"But it's about trying to find the things we are doing well and make sure we can replicate it on the road and take the confidence and make it work for us."
Updated July 9, 2018