The MetroStars are seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with seven games to play. But the number that concerns coach Bob Bradley the most is 10, as in the number of league-leading draws the club has.
"We hurt ourselves more than anything this year with the fact that we have 10 draws. And a good number of them were games where I felt like we really should have taken three points," he said. "In a tight conference those days have put us now at a point in the season where every game is critical."
And the difference in those games, Bradley says, is minimal.
"It's a game where you can generally play well but if you make one or two key mistakes then you're leaving yourself open for letting the game get away," he said. "When I look back, that's still the area that you try and focus on. There's no one way to improve that. It's not like you can just work on it in training."
The Metros aren't in panic mode yet, and with six of their final seven games remaining against Eastern Conference foes - starting with Saturday's game at Kansas City -- there is no need to scoreboard watch either.
But they need to have a much better start at Arrowhead Stadium than they did at Giants Stadium last Saturday when rookie Ryan Pore put the Wizards in front less than a minute into the game.
"We really need to come away with some plays at moments when the game is on the line to tip that scale for us," Bradley said. "Lately we've put ourselves in a bad position because we've played from behind in almost every game. It's not what you want at a point of the season when you're in need of three points every time we go out."
Three points are a must after the Metros could only secure five out of a possible nine in three must-win games at home. But that's easier said than done against a counterattacking team like Kansas City.
"They don't let themselves fall way behind. They keep things tight, they know how to wait for their chances, and they're good at the counterattack," Bradley said of Kansas City. "It's a misconception to call them a defensive team because their way of playing still produces a lot of goals. We have to be at our best against Kansas City because they make you pay when you fall asleep."
The MetroStars are as healthy as they've been all year and, with the exception of Danilo da Silva (right lateral meniscus tear) have a full allotment of players. The club is also close to adding 24-year-old Argentine midfielder Daniel Garipe, who has been training with the Metros for two weeks.
His signing, which could come as early as next week, has been held up by the usual paperwork associated with new players, including obtaining a visa.
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.