FOXBOROUGH, MA – Kicking off this week’s MLS action, New York City FC took their unbeaten record on the road. Brad Friedel and his New England Revolution proved to be a tough challenge for the Pigeons, as City failed to capture all three points for the first time in 2018.
Two-jouri-Shradi: Newcomer Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is quickly gaining popularity among the NYCFC faithful. With three goals in his last two matches, Shradi has – perhaps all on his own – made the absence of David Villa somewhat bearable. Though the Lybian admits he’s less comfortable taking on the #9 role, Shradi has proven that once he’s in the box, he’s dangerous. His two goals on the night were all NYCFC could muster, but they were enough to steal a road point.
I Am Rubber: In a match that got away early, the Boys in Blue showed they still have the same comeback magic so prominently displayed in 2017. Championship teams are those that can play poorly but still manage to get a result no matter what. Bouncing back, not dragging their feet or looking defeated – this is the leadership of Patrick Vieira and the spirit he has instilled in this club.
Everything is Better With Chemistry: With Alex Ring, Rodney Wallace, and David Villa all out of the team this weekend we got to see a lot of new faces in the Starting XI. Ebenezer Ofori and Jo Inge Berget both made their debuts as starters (Ofori had his first minutes as a sub against the Galaxy) for NYCFC with…rusty results. Ofori looked allergic to the ball and a little lost in his positioning through the first twenty minutes, though he found a rhythm as the game wore on. The on-loan Ghanian plays a much more passive game than Ring, and the City’s lack of forward movement throughout the first half was the direct result. Berget – coming off an illness and a quad injury – showed some signs of rust. These are early days for each man, so it’s too early to judge either. However, Ofori may not be as secure in his second-choice status as he was before Saturday afternoon.
As a whole, the midfield had to step it up. Maxime Chanot and Alex Callens took it upon themselves to dribble up to the circle and distribute the ball – the job normally done by Ring. The Revolution midfield was vastly superior to City’s for the first half. Despite a 70% possession mark, City did little to advance the ball, and New England’s press was quick to pounce on mistakes. Both Revolution goals came as a result of turnovers in City’s own third.
With Ring reportedly out for a month, Vieira will have to find a solution in the midfield whether it’s different personnel or different tactics.
NYCFC’s next match will be next Saturday, March 31 at 8pm Eastern in San Jose.