Five Points | Away Day Blues


New York City Football Club fell to a 1-0 defeat at Toronto FC on Saturday.

C.J. Sapong’s second half strike was enough to separate the sides at BMO Field.

Here are Five Points from the clash in Canada…

Road Block

City are still waiting for a first road win of 2023, with three defeats and two draws from our opening five away fixtures.

With an impressive record on home soil, winning eight of our last 10 in all competitions, it has been a tale of two Citys so far this season.

If the Boys in Blue can diagnose the cause of their homesickness, Nick Cushing’s side will be a force to be reckoned with – but as yet, the cure has proven elusive.

Things do not get easier for the City Boys with four more away trips to contend with before our next home clash (including the US Open Cup visit to FC Cincinnati), meaning there is no time to dwell on this setback.

With Cushing and co. highlighting the importance of being able to pick up points on the road, the squad are determined to set things right, and have the chance to fix the issue immediately.

Slow Start

Speaking after the game, the Head Coach lamented his side’s sluggish start – a particularly disappointing run of events, especially after the pre-match urge for City to ‘impose themselves’ from the off.

While the 20-minute delay for a fire alarm may have played a part with the squad forced to head back into the locker room with warm-ups complete, as Cushing noted, it was the same situation for both sides.

Having stormed into leads in both of our back-to-back home victories over Nashville SC and FC Dallas, the team looked to have been finding their rhythm – fueled by fast-paced openings – but were left chasing the game in Toronto; unable to repeat the feat.

A nightmare start to the second half saw Sapong break the deadlock just 22 seconds after the restart, and chasing the game, the visitors could not salvage what would have been a useful point.

Final Third Frustrations

Priding themselves on dominating the ball, NYCFC will have been pleased to have edged the possession stats – but ultimately, the only one that matters is the scoreline.

While the Boys in Blue shaded possession (recording 55.3%), the City Boys were shy in front of goal, tallying just five shots to Toronto’s 11 – only one of which was on target.

Cushing acknowledged the need to produce more in the final third, adding he expected more of a late rally from his side – understandably frustrating given there was only one goal to split the sides.

With ten goals scored in our five home games, the firepower is in force, but New York must be bold enough to unleash it on enemy territory.

Keep Cool

Though NYCFC are still chasing a second clean sheet of the season, the Boys in Blue have Luis Barraza to thank for keeping the visitors in the game at BMO Field.

The shot-stopper was kept busy, and produced five saves to earn the Club’s Star of the Match award – unfortunate not to have ended the game with a shut-out.

Cushing had hailed the 26-year-old’s impressive displays heading into the clash, highlighting the ‘keeper’s growth as he continues to thrive with the number one responsibility.

With former City star Sean Johnson lining up in the Toronto goal, much of the pre-match discussion had surrounded the goalkeepers, and Barraza produced another solid showing to earn more deserved acclaim.


Onwards And Upwards

The sign of a great team is the search for continuous improvement. Though City are yet to hit top form in 2023, there is still a long way to go, and a fifth-place positioning in the Eastern Conference at this stage is no cause for alarm.

What will ensure their ability to compete is the willingness to strive for better, and use setbacks to their advantage. Cushing is a firm believer that in every disappointment, there is an opportunity for learning, and the Head Coach asserts the squad will improve as a result of the recent difficulties on the road.

“We have to be a team that when we’re not playing well, develops the mentality to correct that in a game,” he said.

“We’re not always going to have the control of games like we do at home. We didn’t solve the problem in the first half, and we turned the ball over too cheaply.

“As a team, we have to correct that in the game – we have to have the leaders, and the leadership in each individual to correct that.

“If I reflect on previous away games, we were disappointed in Houston, and we approached the New England game much better, so I expect the team to approach and start the Charlotte game much better.”

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