NYCFC Fails To Shake Bad Habits

By Carlos De Jesus IV 

History would prove difficult to rewrite for 2018’s NYCFC, with a 1-0 loss Sunday night at Yankee Stadium against Atlanta United showcasing a relapse into past habits. Both teams entered the Sunday night MLS East semifinal  showdown hungry and baring teeth, with nearly 10 fouls between the two within the first ten minutes.

“We played physical, they played physical” mid-fielder Alex Ring said “it’s the playoffs, I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

But at home and riding fresh momentum, it was the Bronx Blues who would fail to take advantage. Shaky during set pieces and showing a lack of creativity in the final third, old issues plagued a team desperate to move forward.

 New York City FC midfielder Yangel Herrera (30) shoots the ball against Atlanta United during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

 “We didn’t defend well, the set pieces especially” Coach Domonec Torrent said. “We didn’t have the connection between the central mid-fielders and strikers”

Under coach Torrent this season, NYCFC  produced some marvelous build up play when allowed to play out of their own third. But time and again despite the rhythmic display, a failed run or mistimed pass would doom them into the arms of the opponent’s counter attack.

“Sometimes the pass we made or decision we made was not right” Ring said “hopefully next week will be different.” NYCFC needs two goals or more in the second leg of this semifinal next Sunday at Atlanta to advance in their quest for the MLS Cup.

 New York City FC defender Alexander Callens (6) heads the ball against Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez (5) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

An early inability to latch onto the second ball would lead to the deficit, giving Atlanta a good foothold in a tight contest. “Their set pieces were dangerous” said Ring. “We shouldn’t have conceded a set piece”

And though the Atlanta goal was more a story of deflective luck and fortunate positioning, it cannot be ignored that the defense was not spry enough to deal with the loose ball.

“It was just gonna be a battle to see if we can win the second ball” keeper Sean Johnson said “and they won a few more of those.”

 Atlanta United midfielder Eric Remedi (11) scores a goal on New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson (1) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Having stolen a vital goal on the road and under the increasing pressure of the 19,000 Bronx faithful, Atlanta United and head coach Gerado Martino were all too happy to sit back and repel the Blues.

“In the second half New York City had more possession” Martino said “not just because of the field but also the circumstances of the game.”

One weakness followed the other, as the set piece setback was followed by a contently parked Atlanta defense, leaving NYCFC little room to operate. Squeezed for opportunities and desperate to equalize, the Blues attack lacked luster and imagination.

New York City FC midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) warms up before a game against Atlanta United at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“They defended very deep in the second half” said Ring “they had a lot of guys in the box, it’s always harder that way for us”

But with a spectacular save by keeper Sean Johnson and a disallowed goal in their favor, NYCFC could count themselves lucky to be so close heading to Atlanta. They know what needs to be done in order to change history, score in Atlanta and they could advance to their first ever Eastern Conference Championship.

“Obviously we can figure out a better way to advance the ball and control the game” said Johnson “cause when we do that we score.”

Comment: Twitter:   @IVconsideration  Instagram   i.scarfface.v


Print Friendly, PDF & Email