BRONX, NY – Domènec Torrent got the tactics right, but as he told his players before the match “I can’t play the game for you.” In what was nearly an extremely frustrating night for both clubs, fan-favorite Jonathan Lewis and Maxi Moralez took advantage of a dangerous turnover to paint New York City blue once again.
- New York City FC didn’t look outclassed. In their previous two meetings this season, the “New York” Red Bulls controlled the match from start to finish with their high pressing intensity. Torrent made special note of his observations about City’s tactics in those two matches, and his changes were on display Sunday night.
To combat the Red Bull press, Torrent had his club seemingly make the longest pass they could reasonably complete. This had opposition players chasing the ball all over the field for most of the match, and their tired legs showed near the end. NYCFC made 95 long passes on the day, compared to 87 in their last league match with the Red Bulls. The major difference is that they made 210 fewer short passes – removing a lot of opportunity to lose possession in the midfield and their own defensive third. While the completion numbers weren’t pretty (62%), these tactics were meant to control where challenges for possession took place.
- A special shout out to Jonathan Lewis for once again having an impact coming off the bench. In a 3-match week, he should definitely be seeing some more minutes. Ronald Matarrita also made his return from injury and looked solid, if unspectacular, as a substitute winger.
- I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar performance put in by Sean Johnson. His reactions under close, intense pressure literally saved NYCFC three points.
- Jo Inge Berget‘s injury is something to keep an eye on, especially given his history with NYCFC. Berget missed the preseason and a good portion of the early part of the regular season nursing a leg injury. The club hopes the Norwegian striker will only miss 7-10 days, but in a week with a short turnaround this is obviously not ideal.
- Rodney Wallace was shaky in his first match back from the World Cup. The Costa Rican winger has undeniable value as a guy who can “defend from the front” but his first touch Sunday night was woeful. Wallace was dispossessed a team-high three times and only managed one shot. This was his first match under a new coach, so we’ll see if Wallace can have a resurgence similar to that of Berget.
New York City FC next take on Montreal Impact on Wednesday night at 7pm Eastern.