A soccer goal is eight feet by 24 feet – an enormous frame that at certain moments during a match or season appears to shrink.
“I could not relax,” said New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira after Wednesday’s 1-0 triumph at Montreal.
Vieira could see from the opening minutes that he might have license to sit back and relish a dominant performance by his club. However, NYCFC finished but one of its 22 attempts on goal. While Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush deserves credit with five saves, Vieira declared that his attacking players need a superior mentality.
“We need to be more ruthless,” said Vieira, now undefeated in four matches against the Impact. Vieira’s terminology and message has resonated through the squad.
“I think we need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal,” repeated second year forward, Jack Harrison. “Especially heading into the playoffs.”
Harrison scored the game’s only goal in the first half but missed a pair of opportunities from close range.
“I think it (ruthless) means just take your chances instead of going through it a bit casually,” said Harrison who registered his 10th finish this season. “Maybe just concentrating a bit extra with more focus to execute the final shot. And put in a bit more time to get it right.”
Ranked as high as second in MLS, NYCFC is currently fourth in goals scored with just five in their last six matches.
“Games like the one we played tonight are typical,” said midfield maestro, Maxi Moralez.
The Impact defended in a generous manner, providing space for Moralez to operate but the attacking players failed to solve the shrinking frame mirage.
“It generates a bit of anxiety to know that we get to generate goal opportunities, perhaps,” said Moralez. “Our team is well known for creating many goal situations, but we have to improve on our sharpness and definition.”
The Harrison goal was an impressive combination with forward mate Rodney Wallace leading to a left-footed half volley blast from close range past Bush.
“We are starting to understand each other really well,” said Harrison, a normal winger who started at center forward.
“We changed the formation today and I think it was good for Jack to come into the middle and link with me,” said Wallace. “When I checked in he automatically read that and went in behind the defender and finished it.”
It was the sixth assist of the season for Wallace and a franchise record 16th win for NYCFC. With Atlanta’s home victory against Philadelphia, NYCFC remain three points in front of the expansion side for the second spot in the Eastern Conference – and a first round bye.
“Were an ambitious team and I think we have the potential to win MLS Cup,” said Harrison. “But we have to figure out a way of putting away chances and finish off games like this earlier on so the don’t have a chance of coming back.”