New York City FC suffered a 2-1 defeat against Columbus Crew on Saturday. The result ended NYCFC's unbeaten run of four games.
Here’s Five Points from the draw with The Crew, presented by Etihad Airways…
Set Piece Pain
The topic of set-pieces was covered extensively in the Keys To The Match, both offensively and defensively.
NYCFC wasn’t able to benefit from a set-piece, but they managed to see how influential they can be after two free-kicks from Lucas Zelarayán. Before his influential brace, the Argentine had a relatively quiet game by his usual standards, but when the opportunity arose, he made it count.
Ronny Deila said afterwards that his side were aware of the threat The Crew posed from a dead ball, which will make this result more frustrating.
You must also give tremendous credit to Zelarayán here; if his first goal was the product of brutal power, his second was an exercise in precision. Columbus have now scored five goals in MLS this season, and three have come from Lucas Zelarayán free-kicks.
His influence doesn’t look like slowing down, and it was unfortunate that NYCFC were the latest team to feel that.
Keaton Shows Quality
In the same week that Keaton Parks said he’s with NYCFC for the long haul, it was nice to see flashes of why that’s such good news against Columbus.
The Texan midfielder produced a nice pirouette on the touchline in the first half and followed that up with a key role in NYCFC’s opener. Parks claimed a loose ball on the halfway line, and he had the presence of mind to pass it quickly into space for Taty Castellanos to run onto.
He showed that same awareness and intelligence again just before half-time to play Gudi Thorarinsson in on goal, for what was a good chance.
Parks is a great example for any young players watching. Sometimes in soccer, the simple decision is the most effective and also the most difficult to execute. The 23-year-old’s ability to know the difference is what makes him a good player and one we can hopefully enjoy for years to come.
Secure a Second
If there was one thread woven through the games against Columbus and Toronto, it was the need for a second goal.
New York City FC didn’t struggle to get the ball in the final third, but when it came to that decisive moment for a pass or a shot, something wasn’t quite there against Columbus.
The expected goals column from last night tells a story; NYCFC posted 1.1 xG compared to 0.5 xG from our visitors.
On the one hand, it’s frustrating that the team could not secure a result more in line with the data. On the other hand, it does soften the blow a little bit to see NYCFC had the better of the game and reinforces the idea that the Boys in Blue really didn’t give up much in open play.
The key now is for the players to show that the last two games were blips and not a trend of results not matching the numbers.
Jasson Gets Forward
In the last edition of Five Points, we discussed the industry and defensive commitment displayed by Andres Jasson against Toronto FC and Yeferson Soteldo.
This week was a slightly different story. The teenager still needed to be diligent with his responsibilities off the ball, but he was also able to get forward and contribute in the final third.
Jasson is most effective when he can create, and he proved that with some nice dribbles and an incisive pass to Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in the first half.
One of Jasson’s other traits is his ability to win fouls. That can help the team earn set-pieces in dangerous areas and relieve the pressure by slowing the game down.
The return of Anton Tinnerholm to full fitness will likely see the Swede take up that role, but knowing you have Jasson – who is a slightly different proposition to Tinnerholm – is a good thing.
Sands Steps Up
James Sands entered this season with a very clear set of goals and intentions. No one has doubted the 20-year-old’s talent, but a fractured foot disrupted his 2020 season, and he was keen to make up for lost time.
Playing as part of a back-three, his role in the middle means he needs to organize things and be willing to step out and engage with opposition attackers. Sands approached Saturday’s game with an intensity and aggression that was impressive.
He didn’t look intimidated at any point, and we’re starting to see a player benefit from the momentum of regular action.
The 20-year-old was keen to step into a leadership role this season, and while the result may not have been the one Sands or NYCFC hoped for, we could comfortably look back on this game as one of the first signs of a talented player emerging into the next stage of his development.
New York City FC are next in action against LAFC at the Banc of California Stadium on Saturday, May 29 with kickoff taking place at 5:00 PM ET (UniMas/NYCFC.com/Radio).