New York City FC fell to defeat on the opening weekend of the 25th MLS season, but there were still positive takeaways for Ronny Deila and his team.
Here’s Five Points from City’s 1-0 defeat on the road at the MAPFRE Stadium…
Worst Possible Start
It’s not for us to debate here whether or not Maxime Chanot deserved to be sent-off so early into the opening game of a new campaign, but there’s no question it distorted what had promised to be an entertaining encounter between two of the East’s most attractive teams.
Chanot made contact with Lucas Zelarayan and that was enough for Ramy Touchan to brandish the red card and put NYCFC instantly on the back foot.
Managing the game with a one-player disadvantage for more than 85 minutes, Deila will have been proud to see the heart demonstrated by his players, who refused to feel sorry for themselves, even when Zelarayan poured in the opening goal on 56’.
It was the earliest opening day red card in MLS history, but there would be no hasty conclusions drawn given the circumstances, and especially so soon after NYCFC earned their spot in the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals.
Despite the man deficit, no one could question the attitude of Ronny Deila’s side and the way in which they approached the task of trying to escape with something to show for their efforts.
Ronald Matarrita, Alexandru Mitriță and Taty Castellanos all went close to finding a way past Eloy Room in the Columbus goal, but it was Zelarayan who settled it with one of the home team’s only clear goalscoring opportunities.
Despite the loss, there were more positives than negatives ultimately and reasons for the NYCFC Fam to still feel good about what’s to come in 2020.
The Century Club
Sean Johnson brought up a century of MLS appearances for NYCFC in Ohio, meaning he’s now second only to David Villa for league appearances #ForTheCity.
Villa remains 24 games ahead of NYC’s no.1 and there’s a whole host of fellow 2017 signings waiting to join Sean in The Century Club, so we’ll have more reasons to recognize some of this era’s most enduring talents in the coming weeks and months.
For Sean, a Heineken Man of the Man award, voted on by fans, provided another silver lining on a tough afternoon.
Join in the celebration of @SeanJohnGK’s 100th @MLS appearance for #NYCFC with this special offer on tickets to the Home Opener vs. FC Dallas - March 14 at Yankee Stadium ⚽️🗽— New York City FC (@NYCFC) March 2, 2020
PROMO CODE: Johnson
TIX https://t.co/oaIxAIIjSp pic.twitter.com/EGEV4A1vmw
For Ronny, there was no shame in going down to defeat given the circumstances.
Deila said: “The team spirit and the discipline were very good. Hard work as well. It was very tough of course if you have 10 men so early in the game.
“We stayed in the game to the end. In the end there we could have gotten something also. Of course, they had more chances than us, but you can’t expect that. That is not going to happen.
“So, I think that they were doing – they took out everything they had, and in the end, we were a little bit too short.”
Onwards and Upwards
Next up, it’s a revenge mission vs. the team who ended NYCFC’s 2019 MLS Playoffs campaign.
City travels north of the border to take on Toronto FC and will be buoyed by the signing of Nicolás Acevedo from Liverpool FC (Montevideo), announced on the morning after the Columbus game.
The midfielder will join up with the squad upon acquisition of a P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate and will provide options for Ronny going forward into the season, even if this weekend may arrive a little too early for the Uruguayan to make his debut.
Will the Boys in Blue get off the mark for 2020 at BMO Field? We’re back at it on Saturday evening on the YES Network at 5:00PM ET.