New York City FC exited the MLS is Back Tournament last night, going down 3-1 to the Portland Timbers.
Here’s Five Points, presented by Etihad Airways…
Not Our Night
The signs were good in the first half as NYCFC took a deserved lead through Jesus Medina’s penalty on 27’.
It could have been more if Taty’s audacious halfway line strike had been a foot lower and maybe we’d be recapping another big knockout win, but it sadly wasn’t to be.
Portland rallied from their concession and equalized at a key point in the game, right on the stroke of halftime through Sebastian Blanco, which proved to tip the balance.
Two more unanswered goals from the Timbers followed in the second half to set up a semifinal vs. Philadelphia and end City’s run in Orlando.
City definitely found the promising positions on the field and limited Portland for the majority of the first 45’ but couldn’t add to the one goal in the first half from the penalty spot.
Credit must go to Portland for an organized and resolute defensive effort which frustrated Deila’s side, who couldn’t turn their possession into clear chances for much of a tough night.
Without Héber, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Maxi Moralez fit enough to start, New York will have a slight nagging sense of what could have been with their full attacking armory available, but in knockout football the margin for error is non-existent, as NYC found to their cost in Orlando last night.
In Ronny’s words: "I think we have improved during the tournament," Deila said. "I think we had some really good games. But today I think we weren't good at offensive marking enough and they got too many chances on the counterattacks. But I think we improved during the tournament and I'm sad we didn't get through to the next stage. But we have to just learn from it and work harder into the next game."
It’s been a long 30 days in the bubble for the Boys in Blue, with a wide range of emotions encountered through the five matches.
There were positive performances and some, including last night’s, that will provide lessons for whatever the return to regular season play looks like in the weeks ahead.
For now, the squad will travel back to NYC and hit the training field at CFA and prepare for what’s next. For Gary Mackay-Steven, there will be plenty to take forward. He told reporters: "I felt we've come on leaps and bounds as a team.
"We've had good training, good games and the boys really know how the manager wants us to play now and I felt certainly, especially in the Toronto game, even the Miami game and even the Philadelphia game, there were signs we're doing what the manager wants us to do.”
Onwards and Upwards
For Jesus Medina, it was a positive tournament with a three-goal return for the Paraguayan, capped by the cool penalty which briefly gave his side the advantage.
There have been other impressive individual performances in the competition, with James Sands especially continuing his meteoric rise with a series of dominant performances.
Taty is another one who will come away with his head held high and hopeful of continuing this form on the regular season return but these three players weren’t alone in putting in some strong showings and with more time under Deila, the group will only get stronger, especially as key pieces return to full fitness.
For now, onwards and upwards.