Don't look now, but New York City FC are on a roll.
The club's 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire has given NYCFC back-to-back wins and a string of impressive performances to boot. They've done so with a new system, featuring James Sands as part of a three-man central defense.
"When playing three-back to five-back, whatever you want to call it, it gives guys the ability now to use their ability, use their talent, to not only go forward but also defend," goalkeeper Sean Johnson said after the match. "Now we have a lot of cover as well so we should be getting better just playing the system in the past few games. I’m happy with the boys' defense, it’s been a good couple of games, this one’s a bit more of a fight. You need to win the games like this sometimes, and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
NYCFC have kept two straight clean sheets in the new system, with Sands playing a key role. It also frees the wingbacks to get forward more often.
“I think the players are feeling more comfortable and I also feel comfortable as coach. ... I think we have a system that the players enjoy," head coach Dome Torrent said." We have good quality players. It does not always mean that we will always use the system of play. It all depends on the opponents we are facing. However, the matches where we have used this system have been successful.”
Johnson echoed Torrent's comments.
“I think we’re all comfortable," Johnson said. "We’re three games into the system and I think if we’re not comfortable now, then we have a problem. But we have talented players, talented group - an intelligent group as well that’s able to take on principles rather quickly, execute them and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”
Now that their second win of the season is behind them, it's a quick turnaround for NYCFC.
Torrent's side host Orlando City SC on Saturday (1 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada), aiming to extend their winning streak.
“We have a chance today to recover," Torrent said. "I think we are ready to play against Orlando. They usually play with the same system. It is not easy to recover when you have another game in two days, but we feel ready. My opinion is that it will be a tough game. Orlando plays with intensity, but right now our team is playing with intensity as well.”