Jo Inge Berget happy to do "dirty work" to free Villa, Moralez for NYCFC

MONTREAL – Back in New York City FC’s starting XI for the first time since Aug. 18, Jo Inge Berget brought a bit of Viking mentality to the lineup.

The Norwegian international wasn’t credited with his team’s lone tally in Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact. But his fingerprints were all over Rudy Camacho’s own goal, the result of Berget’s hard near-post run to meet a well-placed low cross from Ben Sweat.

Having finally returned from an adductor injury that sidelined him for the past month, Berget feels that there is a place for him and his style of play alongside David Villa and Maxi Moralez.

“I play in the middle and I’ve got David and Maxi next to me; my job is to be strong and to make runs in behind and to give a little bit of room to Maxi and David,” Berget said. “There are still spaces, especially for those kinds of players, to take advantage there and then it’s my job to do the dirty work and run around and I’m happy to do that.”

Berget and head coach Dome Torrent agreed at halftime that he would only be playing around 60 minutes on the night. It’s important for both men to manage the Norwegian’s fitness: NYCFC have a tight stretch of games ahead, with the Chicago Fire visiting Yankee Stadium Wednesday (7 pm ET | TV and streaming info) and a flight to the Twin Cities to face Minnesota United on Saturday (8 pm ET | TV & streaming info).

“It’s been a while since we last won a game and we really want to win,” said Berget. “That’s the good thing about the tight-schedule matches – we’ve got a new game on Wednesday.”

Torrent knows he’s come under criticism after his team’s poor run of form: the Cityzens haven’t won since Aug. 12, their only victory in their last nine matches. However, the Spaniard still believes his team can aspire to great things come playoff time.

“A lot of people have doubts about me, about the team, but I said many times: We are on the best way,” Torrent said on Saturday. “On the way to try to win something and I believe in that.”

Torrent is adamant that NYCFC must now shake off the team’s winless drought in order to correct their trajectory as the postseason approaches.

“The most important, when you play nine games and you’re only able to win one, [is that] you have to win. We have to win,” he said. “My players know how important it is to win in soccer. The first step is to try to play well, the second step is to try to win.”

Another point of urgency for Torrent is the way his team played away from home, citing a lack of control in the last few games at Toronto, Philadelphia and Columbus.

“If you want to play in the playoffs you can’t play away in that way. Not in the last two, three performances,” he said. “It’s not possible to try and win MLS if you play away like the [last] four games.”

Despite his outing in Montreal, it is still uncertain whether Berget will see action against the Fire on Wednesday. Torrent said he would have a conversation with team doctors and his players before making a decision. In the event that Berget can’t be part of Wednesday’s lineup, Torrent said he would start Ismael Tajouri-Shradi alongside Villa and Moralez.