NYCFC Dismantle Reigning Champs

By Carlos De Jesus IV: Contributor Bronx Chronicle Sports

Since LAFC lost MVP candidate Carlos Vela to injury, the team as a whole has struggled. Without Josef Martinez, Atlanta United looked unrecognizable. But when NYCFC lost Heber, the club muscled on, without James Sands the line has held, because as has been the story of their 2019 season, every facet of this team continues to step up and show out.

“This is a group that is hungry for more,” said keeper Sean Johnson following a 4-1 thrashing of Atlanta United at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night. “Our destiny is in our hands so we knew if we came out and won this game it would really give us a shot at winning the East.”

The Eastern Conference has yet to be sealed because of a Philadelphia victory, but anyone present for the beating in the Bronx Wednesday night would be lying if they claimed to have walked away unimpressed, even those of the opposing club.

“They were better than us in every aspect of the game in the first half,” said Atlanta United keeper Brad Guzman summing up a brutal opening thirty-five minutes “they had so much time and space on the ball, we were chasing shadows. We were nowhere near the same level as them.”

When the reigning MLS Champions are left in awe of your performance, something must be going right. Such is the state of things right now for the Sky Blue outfit, their timing perfect as their unbeaten run of nine straight carries them right into the playoffs. 

“If you want to beat Atlanta you have to be brave and today we had an outstanding performance,” said coach Dome Torrent “we have a certain style of play and we have all bought in.”

Bought in they have, with a rash of injuries to their starting line-up not leaving them exposed but instead revealing their depth, every player plugged in performing with a starters mentality. 

Center-back Sebastien Ibeagha stepped in admirably for the recently injured Anton Tinnerholm. And with Heber working his way back to peak form, Alexandru Mitrita has exploded, bagging a hat-trick against the reigning Champs and making it six goals in his last six games.

Credit: USA Today Sports

But whether it is Maxi Morales’ league leading 20 assists, or a front line that scores at will, it has truly been the ability of the team to read each other’s movements and sometimes each other’s minds.

“We know our tendencies, so it was very easy for us to play off of Maxi and the guys,” said Ibehaga “no matter what position we’re put in, we’re going to go out and put in a good performance.”

Following the game Guzman said “we knew they were going to come out flying in the first minute” and yet their preparation made no difference. United’s early high press did nothing but open them up for New York’s counter as Atlanta simply would not stop chasing the rabbit, with almost all players driving forward with no concern of the consequences.

The Blues made the most of the one on one opportunities gifted to them with Alexandru Mitrita bagging his first hat-trick for the team and Heber burying the opposition with his first goal since returning from injury. All signs prove positive as the team appears nearly at full strength, a scary thought considering their current form.

“Without these players we couldn’t have achieved what we have this season,” said Dome “I don’t know what will happen in the playoffs but right now I have a lot of confidence in this team.”

And they have a lot of confidence in themselves no matter the line-up. With only two games remaining in the season and a bye-week to follow their clinching of the East, we are seeing the makings of the first NYCFC team with a legitimate chance at the MLS throne. If you cannot believe that, just ask the team currently occupying it. 

Find me on Twitter/Instagram:@IVconsideration

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