(Photo credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports)
Suddenly New York City FC are within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Struggling for most of the season, NYCFC are unbeaten in their past four matches and can move into playoff positioning by securing three points from FC Toronto in Saturday's match in Harrison, N.J., along with some outside help.
NYCFC (7-10-13, 34 points) are 2-0-2 over their past four matches, and with four matches left they're two points behind ninth-place D.C. United and three behind eighth-place CF Montreal. While NYCFC are taking on the worst team in the East, Montreal visits Atlanta and D.C. is hosting the New York Red Bulls.
NYCFC are attempting to get consecutive victories for the first time since April 15-22 and the third time all season. After not getting their first shot on goal until the 83rd minute in last Saturday's 0-0 draw at home with the Red Bulls last Saturday, NYCFC earned a 2-0 home win over Orlando on Wednesday night.
Mounsef Bakrar and Talles Magno scored for NYCFC while Matt Freese made two saves in his second straight clean sheet. Bakrar scored in the 37th via a penalty-kick rebound and Magno tallied in the 68th as NYCFC netted seven shots on target.
"We players were more focused than the other games, and we need to keep going like this, especially now that we are good on the table," Bakrar said. "So we need to push all the games like it is the final one."
Toronto (4-15-10, 22 points) stopped an eight-match losing streak and an 11-match winless skid with a 3-1 home win over Philadelphia on Aug. 30, but since then it has dropped two straight. Toronto followed up a 2-1 home loss to Vancouver last Saturday with a 4-0 loss at Inter Miami on Wednesday night
Toronto lost Victor Vazquez and Brandon Servania to injuries in the first half, had two shots on target and dropped to 0-10-4 on the road this season.
"We struggle to take a punch," Toronto coach Terry Dunfield said. "When we concede, it's really hard for us to move on to the next play at the moment. If we can figure that out, then maybe we're not watching these tough finishes to games."
--Field Level Media