In recent loss, New York City FC showed hardware potential

New York City FC defender Maxime Chanot reacts after a match against the Columbus Crew. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
New York City FC defender Maxime Chanot reacts after a match against the Columbus Crew. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

No club might feel more unlucky from this past weekend then New York City FC, this after a strong performance in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew.

Playing ‘at home’ at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., New York City FC showed plenty of reasons why they could be dark horse contenders to get some hardware in 2021.

Despite holding just 43.4 percent possession, NYCFC had a clear edge in shots (17:10) as well as a  4:3 edge in shots. The better, more dangerous team on the day was New York City FC for much of the match.

An 18th minute goal by Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, taken with his right foot from the edge of the penalty area, came off a Columbus turnover in the midfield. Good stuff from Tajouri-Shradi, who felt disappointed that Columbus equalized then got the game winner late in the game.

“I had a few chances where the ball did not want to go in, but I am more than happy today that the ball finally found the net,” Tajouri-Shradi said after the match.

“It was a great feeling for me and was good for the team, but in the end if you don’t get the three points the goal doesn’t mean anything. I am happy to score but we wanted to get the three points.”

What was impressive about the Tajouri-Shradi goal was how quickly New York City FC moved on the counterattack, getting the ball quickly through the lines and into the attacking third. It was dynamic, modern stuff from NYCFC, catching Columbus out of shape after the sloppy turnover.

There is no denying that NYCFC, in their second season under Ronny Deila, is a much-improved. The Starting XI is balanced with good depth and the roster as a whole blends international experience and talent with Homegrown players. Adding a quality attacker in Brazilian Talles Magno, an experienced Brazilian U17 national team member who has starred with Vasco da Gama the past three years, will only elevate this squad.

Against the defending MLS Cup champions, New York City FC showed that they can compete. They were unlucky not to get the win let alone at least share the points with the Columbus Crew.

It wasn’t a perfect result but for NYCFC, there was plenty of good to build upon to leave the Bronx-based club feeling like they aren’t far away from becoming MLS Cup contenders.

“Very tough results in this game…Today we are really organized, we are working really hard as a club,” Deila said after the match. “We create quite more, so in that way I’m very happy with a lot of things the boys are doing, but of course you see that losing that way is terrible.”

Sean Johnson could have done better on the equalizer, a free kick from 30 yards out by Lucas Zelarayán in the 82nd minute where the goalkeeper was caught flatfooted with the powerful effort. Then on the stoppage time goal, another free kick by Zelarayán, Johnson was a moment slow and a bit out of position on the well-placed free kick.

What Saturday’s loss showed is that New York City FC is close to being able to compete with the bigger clubs in MLS or, in the case of the Columbus Crew, the massive ones. This is a well-built team with a head coach who is getting the most out of the group. They are organized, they know what they need to do.

And if Magno can come in quickly and be impactful in the final-third, New York City FC could be ready to compete and challenge for some hardware this season.

Follow Kristian Dyer of ‘MLS Multiplex‘ on Twitter @KristianRDyer