It was a long shot to begin with.
Following the news that their Eastern Conference Final opponents, the Philadelphia Union, had an outbreak of COVID-19 within the team that has effected 11 players, New York City FC fans tuned into the Western Conference Final to see Real Salt Lake take a road trip to face the Portland Timbers to see who in the West would punch their ticket to the MLS Cup Final. Outside of pure curiosity, NYCFC fans had skin in the game — a Real Salt Lake win would allow the Boys in Blue an opportunity to host the Final at Yankee Stadium should they be able to get past the hobbled Union on Sunday.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as the Timbers would win 2-0. An early defensive blunder by RSL’s Aaron Herrera put them down 1-0 within the first five minutes. Later on, Portland’s Santiago Moreno would put the game away with a brilliant strike from distance in the 61st minute.
Should NYCFC be able to put the Union to bed on Sunday, they’ll have to fly clear across the country and face the Timbers at Providence Park, one of the toughest places to play in all of MLS.
For City, hosting at Yankee Stadium would’ve given them a huge competitive edge given their historical dominance at the venue. However, NYCFC have already dispatched of the best team in all of MLS, the New England Revolution, on the road. Of course, COVID crisis or not, the Boys must remain focused on the task at hand and ensure a top performance against Philadelphia before even thinking about the MLS Cup Final.
C’mon, New York!