New York City FC: Match against Chicago Fire FC ends in stalemate

New York City FC failed to score in the 0-0 draw against Chicago Fire FC


On Wednesday, New York City FC began a busy month of games on the road.  The side travelled to the Windy City to face Chicago Fire FC, a team that has struggled in 2021, and sits toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference table.  Nevertheless, the Pigeons could not underestimate their opponents, for Chicago still has many talented players, and could easily strike on a lapse in focus.

Sadly, the goal-scoring NYCFC that fans have seen in the last few games disappeared.  The Pigeons drew Chicago 0-0, and ended their 25-game scoring streak in MLS, which went back to last season.  On a positive note, Sean Johnson, who returned from international duty, got his clean sheet, but a point would have to do.  Still, after watching the team score nine goals in the last two games, this 0-0 draw feels a tad empty.

The first half was quite lackluster and dull for New York City FC.  While the team had seven shots total, only one was on target, and many of the shots were way off.  Players that have been extremely good as of late were lost on the pitch, including Jesús Medina, who gave up the ball multiple times.  Meanwhile, Maxi Moralez was too rough on some of his passes, and struggled to take accurate shots on goal.

Moralez and Medina’s struggles in the match continued into the second half.  Although, both NYCFC and Chicago played a little better, and made the match more interesting.  But, the home side improved much more, and took control of the pace of play and increased their chances against the Pigeons.  This caused NYCFC defenders to really tighten the backline, and they made blocks and clearances all throughout the 90 minutes.

Defense shines in draw

Speaking about the defense, full-backs Gudmundur Thórarinsson and Anton Tinnerholm brought life into the dull first half, and continued to perform well in the second.  Both were defensively sound, but provided opportunities in the attacking third as well.  Whether it was moving the ball up the pitch, or delivering passes into the box, both were bothersome for Chicago’s defense.  Yet, Chicago kept New York City FC out of the goal, and defended well on those few opportunities the Pigeons had.

Additionally, Tinnerholm had one of his best defensive performances of the season.  This included a couple of moments where the Swedish international was shaky.  For example, in the 53rd minute, the right-back gave the ball away, and there was a distinct opportunity for Chicago to take a chance and score.  Fortunately, he immediately reacted, and was able to run back and poke the ball away.  While it was not perfect, that reaction gave his fellow defenders a chance to reorganize, and eventually clear the ball away.  Plus, his reaction timing was solid throughout the match.  Tinnerholm recognized when clearances were needed, and also did well with recovering the ball.

Furthermore, NYCFC went down a man when Keaton Parks received his second yellow card in the 73rd minute.  Thus, he received a red card, and was sent off.  With that much time, and the Pigeons’ struggles during the match, Chicago could have easily pounced and taken all three points.  However, between the issues in the attack for the home side, and NYCFC’s strong backline, the draw was held.

In fact, NYCFC was not deterred when Parks was sent off.  The defense remained concise and compact, and center-backs Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens put their bodies on the line in order to continue protecting their goalkeeper and the goal.

Sure, this was not the best performance for the Pigeons.  Then again, the team managed to leave Chicago, especially after losing Parks to the red card, with a point.  They remained defensively solid, and never backed down.  Now, the main test will be in the next match in Toronto.  Fans will know exactly where New York City FC stands if they are able to bounce back and steal three points on the road, and whether the team is a true threat in the East.