New York City FC tasted defeat for just the fifth time in Season 5 on the road against Atlanta United.
Here’s Five Points to take away from the midseason matchup, presented by Etihad Airways…
City played through the whistle but were not able to find the result they wanted on the road against the defending champions.
“If we want to be a top team, we have to play better. It is that simple,” Alex Ring told reporters.
“I think, in the first 50/60 minutes we lacked basic things, most of all courage. You can’t win games if you don’t play with your heart (and) with courage. There is a lot to think about after this game.”
Taking Risks to Take Control
NYCFC had a quick turnaround going from playing at home on Thursday night to playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.
But what concerned the manager the most was how quickly the ball was coming back at his team in the first-half.
“I accept sometimes, you play here, it’s not easy,” Torrent said.
“I say many times, maybe the people don’t believe me, ‘If you play long balls, if you play faster, how fast the ball goes the faster the ball comes back.” That’s the reason why I wanted to take control, and you have to take risks - absolutely, and you can make mistakes. I make mistakes every single day, and they can make mistakes,” he said.
“But they have to take the ball and pass the ball and play short, because we played the last two months that way. I don’t know the reason why in the first half, we played every single ball long, long, long. That is the reason why when you lose the ball, they recover the ball and the space is so, so big.”
The Long and Short of It
Mistakes were made and lessons were learned.
Atlanta’s speed up front posed a big threat for the Boys in Blue - but one the manager foresaw and hoped to neutralize by sticking to our City style of play.
“Before the game I said to you, ‘I don’t like when we have to play these kind of games, box-to-box,’ and we played in the first half box-to-box. The reason why, because the build-up all the time was long ball, long ball, long ball. I said, ‘No, long ball is - we practice long balls to surprise them.’ In the second half, we played short and we played much better,” Dome said.
“Teams catch up on it and start playing man-to-man, and we just have to find solutions because at the moment, we are having problems with that,” Ring said.
“Now, we have a week until Cincinnati, and we will probably work on it in training.”
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On to the Next
When all was said and done Sunday, the outlook on playoff positioning was still bright for New York City.
As it stands City sit in fourth place on 38 points with three games in hand to make up the seven point gap on first-place Philadelphia Union.
The City Boys will look to start converting those opportunities into points starting with FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.
We’re on to the next one.
That’s the date to circle in anticipation of the Five Stripes coming to the Five Boroughs - also known across the league as “Decision Day” - the final regular season match-day when the all-important new playoff seeding will be locked in for the single elimination MLS Cup bracket.
Now back to work... #ForTheCity