NYCFC set to battle Atlanta United in season finale

New York City Football Club complete the MLS regular season with a trip to Atlanta United on Sunday.

Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Ford...

Finish On A High

The final game of the regular MLS season is upon us as the Boys in Blue travel to Georgia.

With qualification to the playoffs and home advantage secured for the reigning MLS Champions - and Atlanta already eliminated - there is little at stake at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in terms of playoff permutations for either side.

However, in addition to determining the final standings in the Eastern playoffs and therefore the post-season match-ups, the clash also provides the chance for New York to extend our winning run, maintaining the positive vibes all round.

A victory would also signal to the rest of the league that the current holders of the trophy are back in form with four successive wins: on a roll and ready to defend our title.

The New York state of mind.

Fitness v Form

Given the pressure is alleviated somewhat, Nick Cushing may rotate his squad for this encounter, resting key men and handing valuable minutes to those who have not featured much in the last few weeks, providing them the chance to show what they can do ahead of the playoffs.

With an almost fully-fit squad to choose from, the head coach will have to decide whether to opt for consistency with the starting XI or freshness - an intriguing prospect, but very much a nice problem to ponder!

Cushing has said in his recent press conferences that he tends to favor form over fitness and would rather finish as highly as possible in the table than strategize based on potential opposition, but he and his backroom staff will be analyzing every possible avenue in the finest detail.

A team's mentality heading into the playoffs can heavily influence the events on the pitch, as was evident in our 2021 success. Mental strength can prove key - the ability to cope under pressure, particularly in the case of penalty shoot-outs, comeback situations or attacking onslaughts for example - and the squad need to be prepared for every eventuality.

It's a difficult dilemma for any coach: keep things consistent, or keep things fresh. Ultimately, Cushing will have to decipher which will ensure the full squad are in the best possible shape for post-season both mentally and physically.

We'll share a team news update from his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.