New York City Football Club fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
The Boys in Blue opened the scoring at Citi Field through Gabriel Pereira, before the visitors struck back through a Julián Carranza brace and Dániel Gazdag penalty.
Here are Five Points from the clash in Queens…
After more than a month, the City Boys stepped out onto home soil once again.
Unbeaten in our previous ten on our own turf, winning four of our five fixtures in 2023, and following a challenging five-game road stretch, NYCFC were relishing the chance to kick-off an exciting three-game home stand.
The Boys in Blue had never lost a regular season match at Citi Field, and looked to be set to continue that run when Pereira broke the deadlock on the half-hour (continuing our run of scoring in 17 consecutive home matches) – but The Union rallied to turn the game on its head with a quickfire double before the break, extending their lead with a second-half spot-kick to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb.
With our superb run having come to an end, Nick Cushing's side will be desperate to return to winning ways in front of the City faithful as soon as possible.
Another game, another influential performance from Pereira.
The Brazilian impressed to claim the Star of the Match award for the fourth time this season, and found the net to move joint-top of the Club’s goalscoring charts with four for the campaign (tying with Santiago Rodríguez).
GP leads the way for total goalscoring attempts and efforts on target for NYCFC in regular season action (25-12), and tallied six shots against Philly – the most of anyone in the team in a game this season.
He bagged his goal with a typically clinical finish, curling Richy Ledezma’s pass (his fourth assist of the season) expertly into the bottom corner, and earned deserve acclaim from Head Coach Cushing, who deemed the 21-year-old’s display ‘excellent.’
NYCFC and Philly have been familiar foe over the years, with their rivalry having intensified in recent seasons courtesy of successive meetings in the Eastern Conference Final.
This match-up was a typically feisty encounter – pulsating and packed with action. City started the better of the two teams and had no trouble creating chances… but again just lacked that slice of luck and cutting edge in front of goal.
Pereira was unfortunate not to double his lead, crashing a fine strike agonizingly off the crossbar three minutes before the break – and heeding the warning, the visitors rallied to stun the home side with two goals in first-half injury time.
The Union’s direct approach paid off for the visitors, who struck on the counter-attack, before extending their lead from the spot, showcasing their formidable firepower upfront.
It was a frustrating night all round for the City Boys with further cause for concern on the roster front.
Mitja Ilenič had been due to start the game but was replaced by Tayvon Gray after the warm-up, while Ledezma suffered an injury in the process of teeing up Pereira’s goal, and Martins was forced off with a knock sustained in Philly’s penalty award.
With a heavy run of crucial fixtures on the horizon, the setbacks will be a cause of concern for Cushing and co., who have six games to contend with before the end of June.
Speaking after the game, the Head Coach admitted it was too soon to know the extent of the injuries but asserted the squad will do their best to cope, with every player in the team ready and willing to step in where needed.
The Boys in Blue have no time to dwell on Saturday’s defeat with two home games in quick succession next week: City host FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night and New England Revolution on Saturday, having faced both sides already in 2023.
Cushing believes the quick turnaround affords the team the chance to pick themselves up, draw a line under the weekend’s action and use their disappointment to fuel motivation with an immediate reaction.
“I would love to play tomorrow,” he said. “Having a game directly after a performance like this is an opportunity for the team.
“I see a group of guys that are really frustrated in there, and want to make sure that they get wins on the board because we haven't gotten enough wins on the board lately.
“So, it's good to get a game at home. It's a tight turnaround and the opportunity to get on the training pitch and make sure that we put a team out that will fight for the win for New York.”
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