New York City FC suffered a 1-0 defeat against Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night.
Here’s Five Points from a tough evening at Subaru Park, presented by Etihad Airways…
When it came to defining the attacking output of both teams on Wednesday it’s fair to say width was vital.
Jim Curtin’s diamond formation has a lot of benefits including encouraging the fullbacks to get forward and aid the attack, but its weakness comes when those same fullbacks are left isolated and susceptible to overloads.
We saw several instances of this happening to Alves Powell in the first half as Alejandro Bedoya failed to track back. That helped NYCFC create some good chances, including Santiago Rodríguez's effort that was created down the right and went just narrowly wide.
Ronny Deila acknowledged afterward that his team did not make the most of those opportunities, and it should come as no surprise that the eventual winner was the result of a cross.
Kai Wagner’s delivery was a good one, and Bedoya’s late run was well-timed. On a night of fine margins, NYCFC landed on the wrong side, and while that’s frustrating, it should be remembered how close they came to earning more from the game.
NYCFC’s last away win came in May against LAFC.
That streak of pain away from New York is simply too long, and while the team hasn’t lost every game on the road, they’re long overdue a victory. Chances against Chicago Fire and Toronto FC were passed up, and even against Philadelphia, it felt like the Boys in Blue had control of the game for long periods.
Thankfully, there is a chance for the team to break that streak this weekend in the Hudson River Derby, and what a way that would be to end that away day frustration.
Swiss Army Sands
This has already been a big campaign for James Sands, with the 21-year-old establishing himself as an ever-present in the starting XI and becoming a Gold Cup champion with the United States Men's National Team.
Sands has added aggression to his game, but one lesser heralded aspect of his game is his seamless versatility. The native of Rye, New York, started the season as a defensive midfielder, then dropped back into defence as part of a three, and has again shifted into midfield more recently.
The fact his level of performance does not drop speaks to his ability, and is a fantastic asset for Ronny Deila. That reliability helps Deila build a solid foundation, and it was no different on Wednesday as Sands forged a strong partnership alongside Nicolás Acevedo before being withdrawn in the second half.
Santiago Rodríguez has earned more prominent role in the first team of late, and it has been a major asset to NYCFC’s attack.
The Uruguayan is razor-sharp on the ball and floats across the forward line which makes him very difficult to track. He was central to a lot of the good chances that NYCFC created in the first half, and it bodes well he has quickly generated chemistry with his teammates.
Rodríguez may not have made the difference against the Union, but if he continues this level of play it won’t be long before he starts racking up the goals and assists.
“Santi did a lot of positive things right but he also needs to get the final pass or the finishing right and we’re going to win this game,” Ronny Deila said afterward.
Danish defender Malte Amundsen did not dodge any of the responsibility for Philadelphia’s winner through Alejandro Bedoya when speaking to the media afterward.
While Bedoya deserves credit for timing his run so well, Amundsen clearly felt he could have done more to prevent it. Although the evening and result were a frustrating combination, simply put there is no time to dwell on such matters.
The Hudson River Derby is now firmly in view, and with that comes a great opportunity to take three points and bragging rights from the New York Red Bulls.