MLS- New York City FC

NYCFC seals playoff berth under Vieira's guidance

Jun 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC head coach Patrick Vieira heads to the bench before a match against Real Salt Lake at Yankee Stadium. Real Salt Lake defeated New York City 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Patrick Vieira tried his best to shy away from it, but everyone else at Yankee Stadium on Friday night knew what his squad’s latest win meant.

That New York City FC, in just its second season in MLS, will qualify for the postseason.

“It was a really important game for us,” said Vieira, the first-year manager, “but we are not there yet… What was important for us was to win this game and we did it in a really good way.”

City, playing without Frank Lampard who is out with a calf injury, got a brace from its captain David Villa and a goal apiece from Jefferson Mena and Steven Mendoza in the rout, giving the club 48 points through 31 games played and an unbeaten streak of seven matches at home.

Through 31 games last season, NYCFC tallied just 37 points and eventually dropped the remaining three contests and missed the postseason.

“When I signed here, the objective was to take the team to the playoffs,” Vieira. “Even though we are not there yet, I’m pleased and happy with the way the team played. … I think the strength of the staff and myself was that when we went through a difficult period, we never questioned the way we wanted to play.”

That mentality stuck around even after their 7-0 loss at home to the local rivals, New York Red Bulls, back in May, as well as several draws due to late equalizers by opposing teams.

“We never questioned our philosophy,” Vieira said. “We always knew it was risky, but in our mind, it was really important to create more than we’ll concede. I think when we look back at the goals we’ve scored, the number of chances that we’ve created per game, we can be really satisfied. We didn’t panic at all.

“We believed in what we wanted to do in this football club. We believed in our players and we kept working and I think that’s why we have a really good group of players who work really every single day in training and I’m really proud to have the players that I have working here.”

And no player has had a bigger influence in NYCFC’s success this season than Villa, the club’s first-ever player.

“Sometimes people look at [the names of] David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard and people think it’s easy,” said the 34-year-old Spaniard, who now has 19 goals on the season. “We are still a young team. We are only two years old, fighting against teams that have been playing since 20 years ago in the same way. We are very happy and very proud for 48 points [so far]. We think we’re in the playoffs and we’re hoping to make history for our club.

“The second objective now is to fight for the best position possible in the playoffs.”

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