New York City FC: Questions after loss to New England Revolution

New York City FC (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
New York City FC (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

New York City FC lost to New England on Sunday, raising questions

Last week was an interesting one for New York City FC.  After a thrilling win against D.C. United in the return home to Yankee Stadium, it was announced Alexandru Mitriță would be loaned out to Al-Ahli Saudi Football Club in Saudi Arabia.  The Romanian was loaned out for personal reasons, for he wanted to be closer to his family, especially with his wife pregnant.

The loss of Mitriță is understandable, but still a tough talent to lose.  Alas, the Pigeons have to play, and Sunday afternoon they had another challenging match against the New England Revolution.  Facing them for the third time in this unusual 2020 season, NYCFC, unfortunately, lost 2-1.

With one of the toughest of the remaining schedules, NYCFC desperately needed to pick up points at home.  However, an early goal from New England’s Teal Bunbury in the third minute did not help things.  Furthermore, the defense was shaky and mistake-prone, similar to how they played in the early part of the season, pre-COVID-19.  Players like Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot surprisingly made mistakes, including multiple missed passes.

New York City FC continue to have issues with scoring consistently

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On the attacking side, New York City FC looked formidable.  The Pigeons continued to move the ball into the attacking third, especially in the first half of the game.  They had multiple chances, including 16 shots and eight shots on goal.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was especially a bright light in the attack.  He moved up the right side easily and continued to make vital passes into the box.  Unfortunately for the players, the finishing was missing again.

Hence, NYCFC struggled with scoring, even though they led New England in shots, shots on goal, and possession.  The team should have scored multiple times, and they should have won based on how they played in the attack.

But their inconsistency with scoring, and the Revolution’s defensive work, which was brilliant, kept the team at bay.  In the end, they did get a goal off a header from Callens, but since it was in the 93rd minute, it was too little, too late.  The New England side was finally able to get a win in the third game and illuminated the Pigeons’ weakness.

Therefore, this leads to questions about players and some decisions made.  To begin, New York City FC has scored, and there were matches where they played well this year.  But look at some of the teams they won against Inter Miami CF, FC Cincinnati, and D.C. United.  These are all teams who are toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference.  But NYCFC are struggling against the more talented sides, and the significant reason is the inability to finish in the attack.

The Pigeons had a chance to go out and sign a scoring forward.  Still, why did they not take that opportunity?  Was there truly not one player available around the world?  And while Mitriță left for personal reasons, it was obvious he was out of favor with Ronny Deila until those last two games.  Personal reasons aside, it is possible the Romanian might have wanted to leave due to lack of playing time.  In other words, Deila possibly would have caused the scoring talent to leave, despite his personal reasons.

Also, Héber is out for the year, and Valentín Castellanos has been struggling.  Hopefully, Maxi Moralez, who boosts the attack when he is on the pitch, will be back within the week, but that is not necessarily guaranteed.

The Pigeons have struggled against the better teams this year and struggled with scoring, either scoring none or just a goal.  The inability to get the ball into the back of the net against the tougher sides, and the inconsistency with scoring, promotes questions on why NYCFC did not sign another scoring attacker.

But then, it again raises the question of why the forwards, who had no problem scoring in 2019, cannot score?  Is it Ronny Deila?  Are his methods making it difficult to adjust where the NYCFC forwards are unable to score?  Are his methods making it difficult for players to score against the more competitive sides?  Sure, the Pigeons won the first match against New England, but they were held goalless in the last one and scored just once the third.

Finally, with all the struggles this side has had in 2020 after a fantastic 2019 season, the question must be asked again: Is Ronny Deila right for this club?  YES commentator Ian Joy constantly reminds fans to be patient and believes they are too harsh on Deila for wanting him gone.  But with two away fixtures against Orlando City SC and Columbus Crew SC coming up, NYCFC are at a disadvantage, for they have struggled against the two sides, especially away.  While anything can happen, the Pigeons could possibly be looking at a three-game losing streak.

And, the major difference between this year and last is the coach.  Is it wrong to think Deila is a major part of the problem?  The team does not look the same, and again, the scoring struggles continue against the more talented opponents.  Deila also makes interesting and questionable decisions regarding the lineup.

Even when Jesús Medina is not playing well, he continuously starts him.  Gary Mackay-Steven, who has not proven he is worth starting, is constantly given chances, yet his signing can be viewed as a failure thus far.  Additionally, Deila sometimes makes changes that do not make sense, and sometimes waits too long.

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New York City FC might have only lost three times since the MLS is Back Tournament, but five of their seven wins have come against teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.  If the Pigeons can pick up points, and actually compete against the talented Orlando and Columbus sides, then maybe these questions will subside.  But when one looks at each game and sees where NYCFC struggled, the questions on the lack of scoring, why a forward was not signed, and whether Deila is right for the club must be asked.