New York City FC returned to the W column on Monday night, defeating Columbus Crew SC 1-0.
Here’s Five Points from a battling victory, presented by Etihad Airways…
Got it Done
The form guide suggested that NYCFC would find it tough to answer critics after the 1-0 defeat to Red Bulls which marked the resumption of the 2020 MLS regular season, but the Boys in Blue turned many pre-match predictions on their heads with a resilient showing.
While Columbus were missing a couple of key pieces, don’t forget NYC were also without Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, two of the team’s most integral attacking components, so this was an impressive way to deliver reassurance after a tough run vs. the Eastern Conference’s early pacesetters.
It also turned around the opening day defeat to Columbus at the MAPFRE Stadium in March where Ronny Deila’s side were unfortunate to lose after having Maxime Chanot sent off four minutes in.
While NYCFC’s play hasn’t always been at the level we’ve come to expect in the fragmented opening to the campaign, there have been games which easily could’ve gone another way with a little bit of luck and, although time will tell, entering this game at the foot of the East certainly felt like a false position based on the flow of the games played.
Now City have something to build on, it’s hoped this win can provide a blueprint for the way forward.
Alex Ring wouldn’t be drawn on who his shushing celebration was intended towards, but it’s fair to say that it revealed some frustration with those who have written off this group of players in recent weeks and months.
“Everyone has a right to their opinion. But I think it's easy to say stuff, hard to say it into my face and into the face of the team,” Ring said after the game. “It felt good to win, good to score. It was just something spontaneous. It comes with the role I have. For example, when things aren’t going our way, it’s my responsibility and I take that. It’s fine with me.”
For Ring, the most pleasing aspect of the victory was this determination and energy which delivered a perfect riposte to the critics.
The Heineken Man of the Match added: “[We] went back to the roots [of] the way we want to play.”
Second Half Assault
Against Red Bulls on Thursday, it was the 15-20 minute spell after the halftime interval which proved decisive and you could say the same again last night, only this time it was NYCFC who made it count.
Deila’s team charged out after the interval determined not to let the same thing happen again this time, and for the first time began to find ways through a stubborn Columbus backline.
Before Ring broke the deadlock there were good chances for Mitriță, Héber and Tinnerholm, but it was the captain who found the only goal of the night when he tapped home after brilliant pressing from our Brazilian no.9.
Heart to Heart
In his press conference, Deila revealed that a team meeting with Maxime Chanot, Héber, Sean Johnson, Maxi Moralez and Ring took place after the derby to try and find a way forward.
Deila said: ”I felt after the game against Red Bull that there was something that we weren’t connected enough in what we did.
“And [the players] were very clear and what style of play: being more in [the opponent’s] half and more offensive in mentality. I think that’s great for me because that’s what I want as well.
“It’s always about communication. Small things can make a big difference. One thing is what you mean to say and another is what gets received. But today I saw a team that takes responsibility and really, really was committed to each other and to the match plan.”
Never Backing Down
This committed, tough approach was something every player talked about after the game, including the goalkeeper.
Johnson continued: “Coming in I think it was important for us to just really stick to the things that made us successful in the past and we dug deep. I think there was a real fight tonight, a real commitment to playing.
“I think you can see all around the pitch, nobody was scared, nobody backed down and everybody was always on the front foot. That’s what we're going to need going forward to grab a hold of games and win and win convincingly.”
Now City must keep it going with another game at Red Bull Arena coming up quickly as Chicago Fire provide the opposition on Saturday night at 7:30PM ET (YES Network / NYCFC.com/Radio).