New York City FC slipped to their first defeat in a month at Seattle on Sunday evening.
Here’s Five Things We Learned from a tough one at CenturyLink Field…
A Big Ask
With less than 72 hours and 3000 miles between the 2-0 win over Orlando City in Florida on Thursday and Sunday’s match in the Emerald City, it was always going to be a big ask for the Boys in Blue.
Facing off against an in-form Seattle, who enjoyed an extra 24 hours rest between their midweek match and this clash, on synthetic turf, Domènec Torrent was pleased with what he saw from his players, taking into account the factors they were up against.
Torrent said: “I don’t have to make an excuse about that, it’s a fact. At 2 p.m., it was very, very hot. After the long trip, six hours, and then three hours of jet lag … But I am very proud, especially for the effort of our players. It’s not easy to play here after three days and the long trip.”
This team goes into every game looking for three points and this squad rarely ever makes excuses for disappointing results but the odds really were stacked against New York for this one.
If there were any doubts as to the standards expected by Dome, they were cast aside on Friday night when Torrent blasted the performance of his players.
Despite the 2-0 win, the 56-year old was disappointed by the manner of the second half showing in Orlando, when NYCFC dropped deep and were indebted to their goalkeeper and the woodwork for getting out of Florida with three points.
This time, despite the loss, Torrent was much happier with what he saw, with City putting in a strong first half performance and then fighting until the final whistle to turn the tide in the second.
You were left with the sense that Dome wouldn’t lose any sleep over the defeat due to the mitigating circumstances in play, though he’ll of course be keen to get back to winning ways asap, starting on Saturday when Vancouver are the visitors.
Kwame’s First Start
While the majority of the players involved on the Blue side on Sunday will want to turn the page and forget about the match as quickly as possible, you’d forgive Kwame Awuah for dwelling on it just a little longer.
The Canadian youngster made his first start for the Club in Seattle, 18 months on from joining in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and the 22-year old can reflect on a promising first outing.
Awuah was fielded alongside Ebenezer Ofori in the midfield pivot role and he strong in the tackle throughout, also managing to get his team back on the front foot after recoveries with sensible distribution from deep.
Not the result he’ll have wanted but a day to remember for a likeable member of the NYCFC first-team.
Jesus Medina looks to have gone to another level over the past month, consistently turning in decisive games in a multitude of different roles.
The Paraguayan international scored his fifth goal of the season at Seattle, briefly giving NYCFC hope of another stirring comeback.
It wasn’t to be but Medina has now scored three goals in his last four games.
Spreading the Love
In 2017, only three players (David Villa, Jack Harrison and Maxi Moralez) managed to score five goals in Regular Season play for the Boys in Blue.
In 2018, four players have already reached this milestone with 12 games to go (Villa, Moralez, Isi Tajouri-Shradi and Medina), with two others just one goal away (Jo Inge Berget and Anton Tinnerholm).
With Berget, Tajouri-Shradi and Villa both missing the majority of the last month, the likes of Medina, Moralez and Tinnerholm have been absolutely crucial, weighing in with important goals.
In previous seasons, it’s been tough to see where the goals are going to come from when forward players missed out, but happily, the goals are being spread around like never before in 2018.
With Berget, Tajouri-Shradi and Villa are all approaching top condition, it bodes well for the MLS run-in and a third-successive Playoff campaign (which is looking likelier by the week…).
Reasons to be cheerful and optimistic despite this bump in the road.