In NYCFC’s short history, the story has largely been the same. Throughout the season, fans watch free flowing soccer played by a good team that has now made the playoffs for six consecutive seasons. The club has entered the playoffs in each of those seasons with legitimate hope of a run to silverware.
However, in big matches, such as playoff matches or derbies, history has shown that the team falters. Tuesday’s Eastern Conference semifinal against Supporters Shield winners New England Revolution represents an outstanding opportunity for this team to change that narrative.
One could argue that this is the biggest match in the club’s history. A win would send the Boys in Blue to their first ever conference final and one match away from MLS Cup. Not only would this be the furthest they have ever advanced in MLS Cup Playoffs, but they would beat a team coming off of the greatest regular season in MLS history.
Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution earned 73 points in the 2021 regular season, and are the betting favorite to go on to lift the cup. It is a stacked team, with depth at all positions, the best goalkeeper in MLS in Matt Turner, an MVP candidate in Carles Gil, and a player in Tajon Buchanon that will be joining Champions League side Club Brugge after the season.
NYCFC have every chance of pulling off an upset over New England
With this in mind, NYCFC is rightfully considered the underdog on the road against the Revs on Tuesday night. However, the MLS playoffs routinely produce surprise results, many of which NYCFC have been on the wrong end of in seasons past. In the Western Conference, #1 seed Colorado Rapids have already been eliminated.
NYCFC was impressive in their first round win over Atlanta United, and between that and their late season run to secure the 4 seed, have started to show signs that they could be playing their best soccer at the right time of year. With the talent present across the squad, there is no doubt that the Night Owls have every chance of pulling off the upset over New England should they play to their abilities.
Should they do so, it will no doubt be the biggest win in club history. There is a perception across MLS, and even within the NYCFC fanbase, that the club can not win the big one. A win in such a match would begin to change that narrative, and help remove the sting of previous playoff and derby losses. It would allow fans to dream of the first silverware in club history as well.
Perhaps even more importantly, a win like this would grab the attention of people across New York City. This city loves a winner, and given the performance of most other major teams recently, there is certainly space for one. By knocking off the top team in MLS and setting up a spot in the conference semifinal, people will take notice of NYCFC.
Ultimately, a statement victory against New England would have massive implications for the NYCFC squad, its fans, and the perception of the club as a whole. Tuesday represents a massive opportunity for this team to take the next step and make itself known as a legitimate contender for trophies.