New York City FC: Some positives in loss to D.C. United

Apr 17, 2021; Washington, DC, Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Edison Flores (10) controls the ball against the D.C. United during the second half at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2021; Washington, DC, Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Edison Flores (10) controls the ball against the D.C. United during the second half at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

New York City FC lost to D.C. United on Saturday, but there were some positives in the match

On Saturday evening, New York City FC faced D.C. United in their first match of the 2021 season.  In fact, both teams faced one another during preseason, and NYCFC won 2-1.  Hence, both teams had an extra opportunity to prepare for the season opener.

This time around, D.C. got the better of NYCFC, and beat them 2-1.  At first, the boys in Bronx Blue had control of the contest.  They maintained possession, and took multiple shots at goal.  They were hungry and fired up, and eventually rewarded with Valentín Castellanos scoring the first goal of the game, and the season.  For some reason, a switch then went off after the first 20 minutes of play, and D.C. took over.

In the remainder of the first half, NYCFC became messy.  They lost the ball often, and could not regain possession for a significant amount of time.  They were a bit too speedy, and lost their composure.  Defensively, there were some errors, and their opponent took their chances.  The Pigeons were not completely turned off though when D.C. scored both of their goals.  Yes, there was some disorganization, but nowhere near what fans saw during the start of the 2020 season.

Then, regardless of a better second half, the Bronx side could not find another goal.  They were more composed and took their chances, but lacked quality in the final third.  Also, players like Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Maxi Moralez did not perform to the best of their abilities.

Still, it was obvious after NYCFC scored, the Pigeons’ fire burned out.  The main question is why?  Were they not ready?  Did they underestimate D.C.?  Were they more exhausted from preseason in compared to their opponents?  Did they not have a solid game plan?  These are questions that head coach Ronny Deila must answer, whether to the media or on the pitch.

Some positives in the tough loss

While this match was definitely not New York City FC’s night, the team still had some positives.  To begin, they never stopped trying, and never gave up.  Whereas they were unable to capitalize on opportunities in the second half, the effort was still there.  They improved on their possession and were able to move the ball toward goal.  Shots were taken, and players continued to fight despite being drained and exhausted.

Another positive was the introduction of Andres Jasson in the 71st minute.  The new Homegrown player did not seem intimidated by his introduction to MLS.  Fortunately for NYCFC, he immediately got involved.  Jasson, like he did in preseason, went after the ball when D.C. had possession.  In just a little over 20 minutes of game time, he made four recoveries.  In comparison, Tajouri-Shradi made just two in about 71 minutes of play.  Plus, he is a forward, so this illuminates he is willing to put in the defensive work.

Additionally, he brought energy that was missing as the second half went on.  Jasson continuously attempted to distribute the ball to a players near goal.  He was alert, and was not deterred when he did not succeed.  If given a little more time, then likely he would have had a shot or two towards goal.  Nonetheless, in his first appearance, Jasson looked comfortable on the pitch, and was a welcoming substitution.

In the end, the most positive moment was the teamwork that led to Castellanos’ goal.  It started with a no-look pass from Jesús Medina in the midfield, who flicked the ball to Moralez.  Then, the veteran player immediately passed the ball to Anton Tinnerholm, who made a run into the box on the right side of the pitch.  The right-back quickly forced the ball toward goal, and Castellanos kicked the ball into the back of the net as he slipped to the ground.

This particular moment showed NYCFC can be in sync, and work together to accomplish the most important aspect of the game: score.  It revealed the potential is there to do well, but alas, the game is a 90 minute fixture, and the Pigeons failed to recreate that moment again.

Despite the positives, a loss is a loss.  Undoubtedly, New York City FC cannot afford to have the slow start that plagued them last season.  Hopefully, the tides will change, and the winning team that was seen in preseason will show up next week at the home opener.