New York City Football Club recorded a comfortable 2-0 win against Columbus Crew on Saturday evening.
Here are Five Points from a great night in the Bronx.
Saturday’s game against Columbus Crew represented the fifth and final consecutive home game for NYCFC in MLS.
During that run the team has taken 13 points from a possible 15, scoring 16 goals and keeping four clean sheets. Regardless of how you look at it that represents an impressive return for Ronny Deila and his players as they embark on a busy two weeks before the international break.
NYCFC will be back in New York one more time before June and the aim now will be to make it six in a row at home in MLS.
Although Talles Magno is often utilized by Ronny Deila on the wing he brings an interesting profile.
The teenager is tactically versatile and has played as both a left-winger and central striker during his time in the Big Apple. That fluency makes him an intriguing proposition in-game, with the Brazilian able to quickly switch between the mentality of a creative winger and a predatory striker. This is best evidenced when he links up with Taty Castellanos.
The pair fashioned chances for each other in the space of a few minutes during the first half against Columbus, and that makes them a dangerous proposition. Both men found themselves on the scoresheet, with Talles striking first.
While on paper a 4-2-3-1, it can at times seem like a 4-4-2 and that flexibility offers the team a unique tactical advantage as we saw against the Crew.
Maxi Sits Deep
One of the intriguing tactical shifts from Saturday evening’s game involved Maxi Moralez’s positioning.
The Argentine has carved a reputation as one of Major League Soccer’s best playmakers. His creativity in the final third is often highly influential for NYCFC, as his ability to control the tempo and shift the opposition defence around the field.
Against the Crew, however, Maxi appeared to spend long periods operating in a deeper role. The most notable consequence of that came for NYCFC’s second goal. It was Moralez’s position on the field mixed with quick thinking that allowed him to play a long ball in behind the Crew defence for Castellanos to run onto.
“He is the smartest football player on that pitch,” Deila said. “He can play every position except goalkeeper. I think he’s a bit too small for that. He organizes the team, he can run, and on the ball he is really good. That was the positive of playing him in that [deeper] role. When he plays 10 he comes down to get the ball so he is already in that position. The biggest thing is if he can do the defensive work and he is smart in his positioning and I think he did really well.”
His compatriot did the rest with a brilliant finish, and all thanks to that small tweak. Proof if ever was needed that the little magician can be a threat from almost anywhere on the field.
More To Come
One thing Ronny Deila touched on in his post-game press conference was the age of his squad.
Seven of the starting XI on Saturday were 24 or under and that points toward a strategy the club has employed to sign players with significant growth potential. Both goal scorers were among that group of seven, and their success points to Deila’s track record of improving young players under his guidance.
Striking such a fine balance between nurturing youngsters and challenging at the top of the league takes skill, and with so many young players central to the team's success it bodes well for the future of the Club.
Although Nicolás Acevedo joined NYCFC as a defensive midfielder he has seen minutes recently as a right back.
His new role is a consequence of injuries to Anton Tinnerholm and Tayvon Gray, but that should not diminish how well Acevedo has adjusted to the task. His technical ability makes him comfortable when helping the team build out from the back.
While many may focus solely on defending Acevedo also consistently contributed in the final third. That gave NYCFC a greater sense of balance down the flanks and was helpful in stretching the field. The culmination of Acevedo venturing forward came midway through the second half when he found himself inside the Columbus box. His effort didn’t result in a goal, but it highlighted how much trouble he caused the opposition.