The Union have just two points after going 0-3-2 in their first five contests.
"It's important to keep perspective," Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin said. "We do still have a very good group and a good team. We're creating a lot of chances and we're not giving up a lot of chances. We're second in the league in shots conceded, which is good. If we continue to work hard and do similar things, we'll get on the end of a cross and good things will happen.
"Every team has a good spell and a bad spell, and we're in a bad spell right now. We've lost three games in a row, and that's hard, but we have to fight our way out."
The challenge Friday will be slowing down the offense of NYCFC (2-2-1, seven points), which is scoring nearly two goals per game, though most of that success has come at home.
NYCFC is still seeking its first road win of the season, and Philadelphia is aiming for its first win of any kind.
"(New York City FC players) believe in their system, they believe in their style, and it's up to us to stop them," Curtin said. "There's no secret to their style of play. They're not suddenly going to become a long-ball team. We know what they're going to do, but it starts with our initial pressure right off their goal kicks."
For NYCFC, the focus will be on keeping up the pressure. They know that a hungry Union squad will be a handful.
"Teams that have not had many positive results are always very dangerous to play," New York City defender Ronald Matarrita said. "We are very focused on playing well in Philly and playing an excellent game."
NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira agreed, knowing that his squad had yet to find solid footing this season.
"We have to be honest with ourselves," he said. "I think our pressure (in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Saturday) was good, but we need to add more to our game if we want to compete."
That "more" likely will come from leading scorer David Villa (three goals, three assists). NYCFC uses an aggressive 4-3-3 formation, which has led to top-10 status in MLS in goals (eight), shots (66) and shots on goal (25). The other scoring is fairly evenly distributed among Rodney Wallace, Maximilliano Moralez, Thomas McNamara, Jack Harrison and Matarrita.
CJ Sapong has three of the Union's five goals, a team total that is tied for fourth fewest in the league.