The primary occupant of Yankee Stadium is off in London, looking to expand its lead in the AL East. The other occupant is as hot as the Yankees but still has ground to make up in the Eastern Conference.
While the Yankees are across the pond, NYCFC looks to improve its positioning in the East on Saturday night when it hosts the first-place Philadelphia Union.
NYCFC (5-1-8, 23 points) sits in sixth place by virtue of a slow start. NYCFC opened 0-1-5 but is 5-0-3 since and 5-0-5 in its last 10 since a 4-0 loss at Toronto on March 29. Still, it only makes them nine points behind Philadelphia (9-4-5, 32 points), which is unbeaten in its last four (2-0-2) and 9-3-3 since starting 0-2-1.
"It's important for the players because when the players know that in the moment, they know exactly how difficult it is to beat this team," said NYCFC coach Dome Torrent. "Right now, the league is not balanced because some teams have four games more than some teams. ... We have to play the same way, focusing on every single game. I am happy with the team, but we can play much better and we have to improve."
NYCFC is hoping to continue the momentum they built up without showing any rust.
Its last MLS game was a 5-2 home win over FC Cincinnati on June 6 when Heber scored twice. NYCFC won two games in Gold Cup competition but will be without Heber (six goals and three assists), who will miss two weeks with an injury.
Philadelphia owns a two-point lead over Montreal and D.C. United and will be playing for the second time this week. The Union kept their unbeaten streak alive with a 1-1 draw in New England when Kacper Przybylko scored the tying goal in the 84th minute after the Union switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation after halftime.
"In the middle summer months, picking up any points on the road is critical," Union coach Jim Curtin said. "It's a time now where both teams and a lot of the league is on a long layoff. There's going to be rust. It's good to get that one out of our system now, and we have a really tough NYCFC opponent in their building and it's two teams that are at the top of the conference."
NYCFC is 4-0-1 all-time at Yankee Stadium against Philadelphia.