BRONX, NY – New York City FC dominated the possession game and created plenty of chances Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, but the New England Revolution snuck one into the back of the net late as the two Eastern Conference clubs finished the night in a 2-2 draw.
This match was a must-win in the eyes of many. NYCFC scraped together only four points from a possible twelve in a grueling road trip that saw them draw FC Dallas and beat Orlando City – two teams likely to factor into their respective playoff races – and then lose to Western Conference bottom-dwellers Real Salt Lake and expansion side (though still formidable) Atlanta United.
The name of the game for this club so far in 2017 has been inconsistency.
With one exception – April 29 against Columbus and May 7 against Atlanta – New York City FC has not strung together two positive results. The team has dropped points against Montreal, DC United and now New England – teams all below the line in the Eastern Conference.
To this point in the season, New York City does not look like a club that is playing to its talent level.
The harsh reality is that championship teams win the games they should, and NYCFC just hasn’t been able to put away lesser competition.
Patrick Vieira was noticeably frustrated in his post-game press conference, being uncharacteristically cagey with questions regarding his message to the team after the match. Asked about his team’s seeming inability to finish, he replied with his now all-too-familiar adage “It is important to create chances,” while also pointing to his club’s poor defending as an area of concern.
The defending is of particular concern. City’s zonal marking led to a mismatch in the home end, with David Villa marking Kei Kamara. Needless to say, Kamara won the battle and drew New England level 1-1. The goal that ultimately lost the Boys in Blue two points came from Xavier Kouassi, a 5’8″ (and that’s being generous) midfielder that had been playing essentially on one leg from the first play he was involved in (defending Villa on a run, he was forced to make an uncomfortable turn; Kouassi was limping for the rest of the game). This is after Patrick Vieira had sent on Frederic Brillant for goal-scorer Jack Harrison – so with four Center Backs on the field for a corner kick, a one-legged substitute netted the difference-maker.
Unacceptable. And from the the tone in the locker room, one could tell it was unacceptable to the players as well.
Vieira refused to discuss his message to his team after the match, and many players declined to be interviewed. Of course, those that were offered encouragement where it was due. Miguel Camargo nabbed his first MLS goal, finishing off a nice cross from Maxi Moralez before it deflected off a defender and put City ahead 2-1, adding to Jack Harrison‘s opening tap-in, capping a nice run from David Villa.
Sean Johnson defended his defense, praising them for their play through a tough schedule:
“It’s physically demanding and a testament to our team,” he said. He also noted that these past few games haven’t always yielded the desired results, but that the club as a whole needs to buckle down and move forward.
City will take on the Philadelphia Union this Saturday at 1pm. After that, they get a 10-day respite during an international break before coming back to a still-packed schedule, kicking off with the first US Open Cup match against Red Bulls on June 14.
Just about midway through the 2017 campaign, New York City finds itself at a crossroads. Which team will come out the other side?