New York City FC extended their unbeaten run with a goalless draw on the road at D.C. United on Sunday night.
Here’s Five Points from the 90’ at Audi Field, presented by Etihad…
Offense vs. Defense
Head Coach Ronny Deila was philosophical after watching his side knock at the door all night without reward in the nation’s capital.
City were dominant from the first whistle, facing off against a D.C. side with one win in their last seven, clearly happy to soak up pressure and bunker deep.
With two low blocks of five defenders and four midfielders constricting space in the final third of the pitch, and very little pressure on the ball before that, the match resembled an attack vs. defense training ground exercise.
In Ronny’s words: “The team did well. It was a tough formation and team to play against because they were so deep… we’re a little bit sad not to take the three points but it’s not easy playing away with 10 players in the box.”
Such was NYCFC’s dominance, D.C. United didn’t have a single shot on goal – either on or off target – throughout the match.
You have to go back all the way to September 2017 for the last time that happened in MLS (New England Revolution vs. Atlanta United), demonstrating what an unusual night of soccer it was in the District.
Not for the first time this season, NYCFC had potential to wonder if the result could have been different if a couple of crucial officiating calls had gone a different way.
Two handball calls which went in the hosts’ favor were key: the first was in the 44th minute when it appeared ex-NYCFC defender Frederic Brillant handballed Héber’s cross when sliding in to block, while Taty Castellanos was adjudged to have handled in the buildup to a late finish from Gary Mackay-Steven which found the back of the net.
Both decisions went against City, meaning NYCFC had to be content with a share of the spoils.
We’re running out of superlatives for James Sands in this post-game feature.
Once again, the 20-year old was arguably the best player on the pitch as he dominated the midfield third in a way that belied his years.
Selected by YES Network as the Heineken Man of the Match, James was everywhere and despite making a few fouls, managed to successfully walk the suspension tightrope he was on, avoiding a yellow card which would have ruled him out of Saturday’s game.
Once again up for the Etihad Player of the Month award after winning July's title, it's been an incredible season so far for this NYCFC homegrown.
FC Cincinnati await in the final match of this first phase of the MLS return to play schedule.
City can look back on a decent mini-campaign within the larger context of the regular season, recovering from that opening defeat to Red Bulls to win three and draw one.
This latest match against D.C. may well have been a good warm-up for what’s to come on Saturday when Jaap Stam’s side visit Red Bull Arena, as the league’s 12th place team have become synonymous with putting up strong defensive efforts in a lot of their 10 games to date.
You can watch Saturday’s game on the YES Network and listen at NYCFC.com/Radio, while the second phase of the MLS schedule is expected in the coming days.
We’ll bring you news on that first right here on NYCFC.com.