Breaking down NYCFC’s 3-2 defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
Managing Editor Mark Booth picks out five things we learned from our first defeat in five…
NYCFC fans experienced the full 360-degree wheel of emotions over the course of this topsy turvy encounter in Terminal City.
From the early blow when Freddy Montero opened the scoring on 2’ to the euphoria of David Villa’s penalty which turned it around in our favor through to the heartache of Yordy Reyna’s late suckerpunch, this was not a night for the faint of heart.
Patrick Vieira refused to get too down when delivering his post-match remarks, knowing that this was a game of fine margins where either team could have emerged with the points.
The first half had belonged to NYCFC just as the period between the interval and the 75th minute had belonged to the hosts but it was all up for grabs in the final 15’.
As soon as Maxi Moralez entered the game for the visitors as a substitute, Vieira’s men had recovered some of their composure and ability to play through the lines following a rocky 30 minutes of Vancouver pressure.
Both teams took swings at the other to get the win in that dramatic finale but it was the Whitecaps who got it courtesy of Reyna’s header, ending NYC’s winning streak at four.
It was a bitter blow but let’s not forget that the team has been on a great run and there were some extenuating circumstances to point to…
It’s hard not to see Yangel Herrera’s withdrawal through injury as a turning point in this game.
Up to this stage, NYCFC were winning the midfield battle, making recoveries and interceptions, as well as passing through the lines and switching play with real fluency.
A minute after Herrera’s exit, Vancouver equalized and the away team suffered for the next 25’, sustaining prolonged periods of pressure for the first time in the game.
At the point the Venezuelan left the pitch, NYCFC were without Sean Johnson, Ronald Matarrita, Rodney Wallace, Moralez and Herrera – five regular starters who any team in MLS would miss.
The big talking point when the lineups were released an hour before kick-off was the inclusion of Andrea Pirlo in the NYCFC XI.
It was the Italian’s first start since the defeat at Real Salt Lake on May 17 but there was no sign of rustiness from the maestro who was fielded in a more advanced position than we’re used to seeing him in.
Pirlo recycled possession nicely and switched play with clever passes left and right throughout his 75 minutes on the field, earning the praise of his Head Coach in the post-game press conference.
Vieira said of Pirlo: ““I think Andrea had a really good game today.
“You look at the first half, the way he worked with Alex and Yangel, the way we build up, the vision he had in our game, switching the game from one side to the other side, it was a wonderful performance from Andrea.”
Stride for Stride
One funny little subplot this season is watching the central defenders Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot matching each other stride for stride in the goalscoring stakes.
Fresh from Callens’ second for the club in the victory over Minnesota, Maxime netted his second in MLS, bundling home from close range to level things up at BC Place.
Not that the Luxembourg international was particularly satisfied with his notch.
He said after the game: “It was the equalizer but in the end, it doesn't mean anything, we lost the game. I'd prefer to not score and win the game, but this is football.”
After the Break
And now a 14 day break from action as the CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on Friday.
It’s the first time MLS has ever taken a pause for the continent’s premier international competition and it will give Vieira and his team a chance to rest and reflect on the first half of the campaign ahead of some huge games.
Huge, mouthwatering tests lie in wait on the other side of the break, as NYCFC square off with the two teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference, Toronto (home and away) and Chicago, before we host Red Bulls for the only home derby of 2017.
It looks like a potentially decisive couple of weeks in the Regular Season but for now, it’s time to recover and take stock before our next push.