By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor
Steven Mendoza made the shot and it hit the post at Yankee Stadium Friday night with 15 minutes remaining in what became a defensive battle for New York City FC in their 1-0 loss to Orlando City. It was not the game that fans of NYCFC have come to expect but three games last year between the two teams were highly competitive.
“I think we went into the game with not enough desire,” commented NYC coach Patrick Vieira who got his first defeat in the first three games of his tenure with the team. “It wasn’t enough desire, enough concentration. I think we were a little bit too sloppy and then we made it easy for them.”
And when Mendoza missed the opportunity, the 24,957 in the Bronx knew it was that type of night with missed opportunities. Defense played a role for Orlando and they are a team that knows how to control the ball, but this is a NYCFC team that was prepared for a game and opponent that would be difficult to score against.
Even the star, David Villa, who helped his team get by Orlando last July in a 5-3 win was not a factor. It was that type of evening in the Bronx and if this was a baseball game it was typical of a pitching duel in July.
Mendoza, the native of Palmira, Valle del Cauca Colombia and on loan from Corinthians, had his second appearance because Khiry Shelton was replaced at halftime. But New York City FC, with possession could not capitalize on numerous opportunities and they hope for better next time the teams meet again at Yankee Stadium in late May.
New York City FC had possession 66 percent of the time and 83 percent in passing accuracy to Orlando’s 71 percent, but they failed to get the ball where it had to go.
Said Shelton, who expects to start again next Saturday afternoon in the Bronx against New England: “Obviously it’s (Orlando) a very good team. It was a tough game for us. We had our chances and opportunities, we definitely had an opportunity to win the game. To be honest, I think it’s on me. I think that I didn’t put them under enough pressure by driving at them and I think that was the reason. But I’ll talk to coach about that and try to figure it out.”
There is no question that coach Vieira will make changes when he has to. “I’m really disappointed because I think we managed to play well, especially in the second half but we give away the game in the first 10 minutes,” he said.
“The way we entered the game wasn’t good at all and it was really easy for them to defend,” added Vieira. He did not commit about making any significant changes for the next game, but there is every reason to believe this revamped roster has enough offense to overcome not scoring against Orlando and the coach was pleased the way his team moved the ball around the pitch.
“We just didn’t get that final touch, that killer instinct you need in a game like this,” forward Patrick Mullins said. “They had it in the first 15 minutes of the game and that was the difference tonight.”
The advantage for New York City is having a week to adjust and get over the first loss. They know they have a team that can score and handle similar approaches that Orlando had Friday night in the Bronx.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring76@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso