David Villa took to his social media channels urging fans to stay positive despite the 3-1 defeat to Houston Dynamo on Friday night.
We’re not about to contradict El Capitan, so here’s Five Things We Learned from a tough Friday night in Texas…
We’re far from panic stations with NYCFC still perfect at home with five wins from five and a 7-3-3 record through 13 games but Patrick Vieira will be a little frustrated with his team’s recent travails on the road.
The victory at San Jose at the end of March was the last time NYCFC won away from Yankee Stadium but it’s worth remembering that the schedule hasn’t been as kind as it could have been in the first three months of the campaign.
City have ticked off cross-Conference trips to LAFC, Sporting KC, Portland and San Jose, as well as notoriously tough trips to Atlanta, New England and Red Bulls and still lie well in contention towards the front of the Supporters Shield race.
On top of that, we actually have four more points and one fewer defeat than we had through 13 games at this stage of 2017.
With City now looking forward to six home games in our next eight MLS matches, there are plenty of reasons to stay positive at this still-early stage in the campaign.
The Decisive Moment
It’s rare to see NYCFC take an early lead and go on to take no points but that’s what happened on Friday night at the BBVA Compass Stadium.
We couldn’t have asked for a better start when, in the sixth-minute, David Villa piled in his eight goal of the campaign with a devastatingly clinical volley from the edge of the area but that was as good as it got on the night.
Despite a strong first half showing, Vieira’s men were pegged back and wilted under the wheels of an in-form Houston side clearly in the mood to put on a show for their home crowd.
It could have been a very difficult game, though…
City summoned up a second wind when 2-1 down and had the opportunity to equalize on a one-on-one for Jo Inge Berget but Joe Willis made a fine save and a couple of minutes later, it was 3-1 when Alberth Elis scored on a counter.
Like the move which led to Ronald Matarrita’s goal last weekend vs. Colorado, Berget did everything right, attempting the stabbed dink over the onrushing ‘keeper but this time the ball ricocheted back to Houston, rather than onto a Costa Rican head.
Them the breaks...
For a fierce competitor like Alex Ring, being on the end of praise after a defeat will be no consolation but still, it would be remiss not to make mention of the Finn’s excellent performance in an unfamiliar role.
For the second game in a row, Ring lined up as a central defender as part of a three-man backline and he was faultless, despite City shipping three goals.
The damage would have been far greater if not for a number of superbly-timed last-ditch interceptions made by one of New York’s most consistent (and versatile) performers.
Now let’s get him to Atlanta for the All-Star Game…
Another man who certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side was Mr. Consistency himself, Sean Johnson.
The Atlanta native made two out of this world saves over the course of the 90’, the first a superhuman reflex x agility fingertip to keep out a first half deflected strike and the second, a staggering save from Elis’s header on 80’ which, lucklessly, rebounded straight back out to the Honduran.
In all, Johnson made seven stops to defy Houston for as long as he could and earned the NYCFC.com Star of the Game award – again, no consolation to a man with Sean’s will to win but some acknowledgment of another sterling individual performance.
The sight of Yangel Herrera leaving the stadium in a wheelchair was a concerning one for NYCFC fans on a sobering night.
It was a bitter blow for Vieira to lose the 20-year old’s quality in the first place, but at the same time, it meant that we never got a proper look at the innovative system the Frenchman was looking to employ.
Such an early disruption to the spine of the team (and the lengthy stoppage) surely didn’t help a team that was in the ascendency, 1-0 up and looking to inflict further damage on the hosts.
We’ll have an update on Yangel’s condition here on NYCFC.com next week when more is known – fingers crossed it’s not as bad as it first looked…
With Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace departing to join up with Costa Rica for World Cup duty straight from this game, Patrick will be sweating injuries to key players extra over the next month.