First-place New York City FC was admittedly worn down after a run of three games -- including two wins -- in eight days. New York City coach Patrick Vieria knew by the time he finished watching his team's performance in a 3-1 loss at Sporting KC on Monday, it needed a break.
"It was important for us to recover physically and mentally," Vieria told team's website. "We had three games in a week and we spent a lot of energy. And that's the reason why I gave them two days off."
New York City will see if the time off pays off Sunday, when it travels to Montreal for a 5 p.m. ET, nationally-televised match with the short-handed Impact.
New York City boasts the best road record in the MLS at 5-3-1. The Impact are 4-1-3 on their home pitch, but will be without suspended star midfielder Ignacio Piatti.
MLS suspended Piatti after reviewing a two-footed takedown of Portland's Alvas Powell last week. It was changed from a yellow to a red card, sidelining Piatti against New York City. He leads Montreal with 11 goals, second in the MLS behind New York City's David Villa, who has 12 goals on the season.
Without Piatti, New York City's focus will turn to Montreal forward Didier Drogba, who will be available Sunday, after missing his last three games with a thigh injury.
"He's one of the best players in the world at his position," Vieria said of Drogba. "When you look at the number of finals that he played, the number of goals that he scored in the finals, just how good he is. I think he's a player that has always shown up in the big moment, and he's a threat for the 95 minutes. It's exciting to face him again. I think as a team we'll have to be really strong and we'll have to concentrate for the 95 minutes."
Montreal (6-4-8) is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, trailing New York City by four points.
The teams battled to a 1-1 draw in an April 27 meeting at Yankee Stadium. Montreal's Dominic Odura scored the equalizer in stoppage time in the draw. R.J. Allen scored for New York City.
New York City won two of three games against Montreal last season. >> Read more
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press