New York City FC fell to a second defeat at the MLS is Back Tournament on Tuesday night.
Here’s Five Points from the 3-1 loss to Orlando City, presented by Etihad Airways…
Mountain to Climb
NYCFC gave themselves a mountain to climb early in this one, falling to a two-goal deficit with 10 minutes on the board.
Chris Mueller profited with a brace from City’s slow start and Ronny Deila’s charges were right up against it to try and rescue something from the match.
It was a crushing opening for a side who came into the game eyeing goals as the final piece missing from a decent but luckless outing vs. Philadelphia, and although Jesus Medina gave NYC hope when he halved the deficit with halftime approaching, Akindele’s late header meant that it would be another fruitless night for our Boys in Blue.
The wait for a first point of the interrupted MLS season goes on and City’s Round of 16 qualification hopes hang in the balance, with a big result on Monday vs. Miami needed to advance in the tournament…
According to fivethirtyeight, NYCFC has a 17% chance of advancing to the Round of 16 after last night’s defeat, though City can look to recent 24-team international tournament group stages for some hope.
Portugal took home the Euro 2016 crown after qualifying with three points, while Cameroon and Nigeria both qualified with three points from the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.
Hopes of finishing in the top two of Group A were dashed when Philadelphia defeated Inter Miami, so our only hope of qualification now lies in being one of the four best third-placed teams across the six groups.
To do that, NYCFC will likely need to defeat Miami by a few clear goals in Monday’s breakfast matchup and hope results go our way elsewhere.
In the post-match press conference, Ronny Deila took responsibility for the defeat in a match which swung back and forth.
He told reporters: "The first half an hour is not good enough. I have to take responsibility for it because it seems like we weren't clear enough on how we want to play. We didn't show what we want to do in the first thirty minutes. After that, we changed a lot of things and we looked more dangerous.”
City started out with three at the back vs. the 4-3-3 favored through Deila’s first few games as manager, but the Norwegian reverted back after falling to a 2-0 deficit. City improved and were good value for Medina’s goal on 38’.
It didn’t count for much in the end, but Medina’s strike was one of the most aesthetically pleasing of the competition so far – and probably the sweetest of his 10 MLS goals for NYCFC to date.
Ultimately, however, City were picked off on the break on 81’, shifting the momentum of the game back in Orlando’s favor and putting the result beyond New York.
On a night of few bright spots, Alexandru Mitriță did make his return from injury as a substitute and showed flashes of brilliance that may be needed if City are to secure the kind of scoreline needed to advance vs. Miami.
The Romanian was a danger throughout his brief cameo, going close to scoring his first goal of the season with a curling strike which hit the crossbar late on.
With Maxi Moralez potentially out with a quad injury, NYC will surely need creativity and spark from elsewhere on Monday if we’re to pick up our first points of the season.
It wasn’t the way he would have wanted to have brought up the milestone, but The Ringleader made it 100 MLS appearances for NYCFC with his start in midfield vs. Orlando.
The Finn has been a mainstay of the lineup ever since joining the Club in 2017 and joins an exclusive group of players to have reached three figures in the NYCFC Century Club (David Villa and Sean Johnson).
Although it wasn’t a night for celebration, taking a longer view, it’s no small feat to reach 100 games in MLS and is testament to the contribution of Ring, one of the best players in his position to have graced the top level of the game in this country.