Patrick Vieira of NYCFC
USA Today

NYCFC's Vieira promises "positive" tactics as he aims to avoid 2016 mistake

NEW YORK – New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira is determined not to repeat the mistake he made a year ago when his team was bounced by Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

In the first leg of that series, played at BMO Field, NYCFC adjusted their style from the attacking orientation showcased through the regular season. Instead, Vieira said, his desire to set the stage for the second game affected the focus on that opening match, and a cautious, defensive NYCFC were punished with a pair of late goals, and they went on to lose the aggregate series 7-0.

That changes Tuesday night in the first leg of their semifinal series against Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium (8 pm ET | ESPN in the US, TSN, TVAS in Canada). Vieira vows NYCFC will play to win, as they did all season – home or away.

"When we played against Toronto last year, we were a little bit thinking about the second game before thinking about the first game,” Vieira told reporters on Monday. “This one, we are not going to make the same mistakes. We are going to have our game plan and we are not going to change from the way we played since the beginning of the season.”

Although he didn’t disclose his starting XI, Vieira hinted at possible changes, citing quality play from Costa Rican fullback Ronald Matarrita as well as rookie Jonathan Lewis, who both came off the bench in the regular-season finale.

One player who will not be involved in the opening leg is central defender Maxime Chanot, who could be ready for the second leg Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Ethan White, who suffered a knock in training last week, traveled to Columbus with his team Monday night.

While Vieira may or may not tweak his lineup from the one that played Columbus to a 2-2 draw at Citi Field on Decision Day, there is no doubting the message by the second-year manager come Tuesday night.

“We’re going to be positive, try to put them under pressure and we’re going to play the game and go to win the game,” Vieira said.

That’s in stark contrast to the drab 0-0 draw between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders Sunday night in the opening match of the Western Conference Semifinals, which prompted debate about the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs format.

Vieira has no issue with the format, except to say the higher seed should be home in the first match.

“We all have a different opinion on that, and mine will be to play the first game at home because when you play the first game at home, you’re just going and trying to win the game,” Vieira said. “In the second leg you always can manage the game regarding the score of the game. When you play at home I think you can have an advantage in the first leg. I will prefer us to play the first leg at home and the second leg away.”

He is also confident that Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter will not alter his tactics, which could lead to a scintillating two-legged series.

“I think both teams will play, going forward to try to win the game,” Vieira said. “I believe both teams will take more risk going forward and try to score because I believe that both teams strength is trying to have possession, trying to create the overload on one part of the field and trying to score goals.”