Patrick Vieira: NYCFC must get better despite sitting top of East
MONTREAL -- New York City FC may be alone atop MLS' Eastern Conference, but coach Patrick Vieira thinks his side must become even better as the playoffs approach.
"I still believe there are some parts of the game where we really need to improve," Vieira said on Sunday after NYCFC beat the Montreal Impact 3-1, their league-leading sixth road win of 2016.
"We are more solid as a team, and I'm really pleased with where we are at the moment. But we are not perfect yet."
Goals from David Villa, Frank Lampard and rookie Jack Harrison paced Vieira's team at Stade Saputo. Lampard's second-half strike was his fifth in his past six games.
"I'm loving playing at the minute," said the 38-year-old former Chelsea captain, who spent most of his first year in North America on the training table after arriving in July of 2015.
"Being injured is frustrating for anyone. I was particularly frustrated. I couldn't do what I wanted to do, and that's contribute and score goals and help the team."
Harrison's goal just before halftime certainly helped the visitors, even though Vieira said the former Manchester United academy product didn't have his best performance.
"I agree with him," Harrison said. "Apart from the goal, I gave the ball away too many times."
Still, NYCFC enjoyed the majority of possession, and they were able put three of their four shots on target past Impact keeper Evan Bush.
"We played against one of our rivals fighting for position at the top of the table," Villa said. "So it's really important, this victory for us, in a difficult game, in difficult stadium, against a difficult team."
Yet Vieira warned that the two-year-old club, which missed the playoffs in its expansion season, must continue to progress to ensure that it qualifies this autumn. Philadelphia trails City by just three points in the East, and the Union has played one fewer game.
"You can see how tight the conference is," he said. "It's really good win, but anything can happen and we can drop points losing against any team in the league."
"We're satisfied with the victory and especially the way we played," Vieira continued, adding that his team must get better at managing difficult moments during matches. "But we're going to forget about it because our next game will be as important."
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.