With superstar striker David Villa and head coach Patrick Vieira leaving the club in 2018, some New York City FC fans wondered over the winter if this season would be one of transition and moderated expectations.
Not so much.
With their 2-1 Decision Day presented by AT&T win over Philadelphia, NYCFC completed their best regular season in their five years in Major League Soccer, setting an array of club records en route to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Cityzens finished 2019 on 64 points, with 63 goals scored and 42 conceded for a plus-21 goal differential. They averaged 1.88 points per game, winning 18 matches and losing just six. All of those marks are club bests.
Coming in first in the East is also the best-ever placement in the standings for Dome Torrent's side, topping their second-place finishes in 2016 and 2017. Their 11-1-5 league record at home was one of the league’s best and nearly matches their club-record home performance of 12-1-4 last season. NYCFC racked up a 7-5-5 mark on the road, their best performance in that category and the first time they’ve accumulated a winning record away from Yankee Stadium.
Thanks to all that regular-season excellence, the blue half of Gotham have earned a first-round bye in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs; they will host the winner of the Toronto FC vs. D.C. United Round One match (4th vs. 5th) in a conference semifinal clash on Oct. 23 or 24. The site of that match could shift from Yankee Stadium to Citi Field, depending on how the New York Yankees fare in the MLB postseason.