New York City Football Club earned a point on the road against Real Salt Lake.
The two sides played out a goalless draw in Utah.
Here are Five Points from the game…
One of the most difficult aspects of playing against Real Salt Lake on the road is the altitude.
The team’s position above sea level makes them a unique test in the MLS landscape, and that fact was not lost on Nick Cushing.
“Playing altitude is incredibly difficult," he said. "You can see with our team the physical effects of playing at altitude, but the one thing you can't question is the fight and togetherness of this team.
“If this was my team, I'd be proud of it today because as a supporter you want to see them fight for the badge, fight for each other, and show spirit and heart.
He later added, "When you play at altitude and you play against a team that trains here every day and plays there every day it is impossible."
"If you watch every east coast team that comes here you'll see the same. It's almost a 65-70 minute game and then you have to fight and have the desire and togetherness and the will to try and win for your club."
Follow the Path
The NYCFC team sheet told the story.
James Sands, Justin Haak, and Stephen Turnbull had all prorgressed through the Club’s system, with Turnbull a graduate of NYCFC II. On the bench, Tayvon Gray, Andres Jasson, and Nico Benalcazar boosted those numbers further after starting their journey in the academy.
The six players play an important role in Nick Cushing’s squad, and send a clear message to those aspiring to make the same journey that it is possible to advance through the ranks.
Playing in familiar surroundings Luis Barraza shone.
The shot-stopper started his soccer journey in the RSL academy and produced a string of important saves to keep the team's clean sheet intact. As the clock ticked toward the 90 minute mark he denied Anderson Julio from close range, before diving on a loose ball to stop a certain goal.
The shot-stopper is accustomed to playing in altitude, and that helped his team emerge from a tough road game with what could prove to be a valuable point.
The path of progress is never straight.
NYCFC have undergone significant changes in 2023 and that has presented a significant number of challenges for this group to face as they build a bond together. The adversity they have faced early on has tested their character both as individuals and as a group.
Reflecting on Saturday's game - which represented a second straight clean sheet - Nick Cushing was pleased to see his team deliver the intangibles that the game of soccer can so often be defined by.
“I think you saw fourteen or fifteen guys that went on the field and showed a will for New York City to make sure that we didn't lose another game,” he said.
Nick Cushing needed to reorder his starting XI for the trip to Real Salt Lake with Maxime Chanot suspended.
In came Tony Alfaro for his second start in MLS and performed admirable during the 90 minutes. Providing a critical block in the first half to deny Danny Musovski, he built on that with a pair of vital headed interceptions in the second period.
While the team’s overall defensive performance was impressive, it was embodied by the individual showing of Alfaro.
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