Fact. New York City FC are MLS Cup contenders.

New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson celebrates with teammates after the game against Los Angeles FC. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson celebrates with teammates after the game against Los Angeles FC. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

New York City FC is for real, a 2-1 win at Los Angeles FC on Saturday underscoring that the Eastern Conference side has the potential to be a top team in MLS this year. Battling back, on the road to not just get a point but a win over the best teams in the league the past two years is a signal of intent by NYCFC.

In the win at Banc of California Stadium, New York City FC showed all the mettle needed to be a playoff team and an MLS Cup contender. This is a well-built and balanced team, one that showed in Saturday’s win that it can compete with anyone.

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One that showed there is the potential for New York City FC to be MLS Cup contenders. Fact.

(Bears. Beets. Battlestar Gallectica).

“It’s a massive win. We meet, in my opinion, that is a top, top team in the league. Playing them away and we get three points and we deserved it,” New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila told reporters after the match.

“If you look at all the games where we haven’t picked up points earlier, today was an even game if you look at the chances, but we had the margins with us. I’m very, very proud of the team. We defended good in the first half and into the second half. They got their chance in the end, and they scored. We had a really good bench, we changed four players, got more offensive and go for a goal. In the end we got through a red card, and got three points. It’s a massive win to build belief and team spirit.”

A week ago, New York City FC made a bit of a statement despite being on the wrong side of a 2-1 home loss to the Columbus Crew, outplaying the defending MLS Cup champions for large portions of the match. They followed that up with a match that at times wasn’t very pretty but was quite effective against LA FC.

They were out-possessed and LA FC looked the more dangerous team throughout the match. But NYCFC held their shape and were difficult to break down. Despite nearly 60 percent possession, LA FC managed just five shots on goal.

But New York City FC showed a different way to win, a bend don’t break mentality. A team that wants to possess the ball and build-up was willing to get gritty to get three points.

Los Angeles FC took the lead in the 56th minute by Corey Baird. But NYCFC battled back with a 70th minute goal from Jesus Medina and then a stoppage time goal by Ismael Tajouri-Shradi  gave New York City FC the statement win.

The winner, by the way, came despite being a man down following a second yellow card to Nicolas Acevedo in the 86th minute.

What stood out from Saturday was that New York City FC is a deep, resilient team. Credit must be given to sporting director David Lee, who has a squad mixed with youth, international experience and a bit of underrated star power.

When recent signing Talles Magno, a Brazilian U17 recently signed from Vasco da Game, gets his fitness and comfortable with his new team, then NYCFC should be able to challenge for the Supporters Shield. This is a team with a clear identity along their back four and an emerging personality on the offensive side of the ball.

Going into LA FC’s home turf, a team that has struggled this season but clearly has the talent to be a playoff side, was a bold statement from New York City FC.

Getting a big play, such as goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s point black save in the final minute of stoppage time, is another big sign for the club. It showed the team’s backbone not only getting a goal a man down but standing firm in the clutch.

A huge statement made this past weekend by New York City FC.

“It was a point in the game where they possess the ball well around the 18. They found a little bit of daylight,” Johnson said.

“Was going away from the goal, took a good touch. I just stayed calm, and balanced in the moment. Everyone was coming up with big plays in the game–Jesus, Isi–so I just did my part.”

Follow Kristian Dyer of ‘MLS Multiplex‘ on Twitter @KristianRDyer