New York City FC falls to Philadelphia Union at home
On a much nicer Saturday afternoon, New York City FC faced the Philadelphia Union for the first time in 2022. Tensions between the two sides were higher than usual, for the Pigeons beat the Union to become the Eastern Conference Champions in last season’s playoffs.
Philadelphia fans claim NYCFC should have never won the MLS Cup, for their team was without 11 players due to a COVID-19 outbreak. But, that could have happened to any team last year, and sadly the Union was struck with an outbreak at the worst possible time. The team was extremely competitive though, and the Bronx side had to fight to beat them.
This time around, Philadelphia came out on top, winning 2-0. This win may heighten the fans’ belief that the star on the NYCFC crest should be an asterisk, but remember, it is about the whole journey and not one match. Still, NYCFC was unable to even draw level, and now lost three points at home.
Therefore, the club only had has four points in four MLS fixtures. But, they had just three points in their first four in 2019, and none in their first four in the 2020 pandemic reduced season. 2021 was a recent anomaly for they had seven, but that does not take away they started off slowly in the last three of four years.
New York City FC lost 2-0, but still played well
Nonetheless, it is disappointing New York City FC lost, as it should be, but also, it is not surprising. For starters, the Pigeons have traveled all over North America since January, unlike the Philadelphia Union. Moreover, they are competing in the CONCACAF Champions League, unlike their opponent. Besides, NYCFC is recently notorious for slow starts in Major League Soccer, as already explained, and this was only the fourth game of the season.
Hence, there are external factors impacting NYCFC’s start of the season. One cannot say though that NYCFC played poorly. Philadelphia just capitalized on their chances, and the Bronx side had two defensive blunders. Sometimes, that is the difference in a match.
In fact, NYCFC played well. They continued to get into the final third, and held onto the majority of the possession with 73.4%. They were not defending the entire time, and not constantly giving up the ball. Instead, they had their chances; they just could not get the goal. Undeniably, the Union defended well too, and Andre Blake, one of the best goalkeepers in the league, was spot on with reading the ball. And of course, there was that vital clearance on the line of goal by Nathan Harriel that would have led NYCFC to their first goal in the second half.
The Pigeons also had multiple close chances. Andres Jasson, who has been filling in for Tayvon Gray, had an extremely close first half shot that scraped the side netting, which almost led to his first goal in MLS. Then, toward the end of the first half, Keaton Parks had a long and powerful shot that just went wide. Héber even had a big chance with a header attempt that went wide toward the end of the game.
Furthermore, the second half was just an attacking affair for NYCFC. They controlled the majority of the 45 minutes plus stoppage time, and consistently tested the Philadelphia backline and Blake. They also had 18 shots overall, with 11 of those shots happening in the second half. Unfortunately, their numerous opportunities could not lead to goals. The difference was Philadelphia capitalized on their chances, whereas the home team did not.
In the end, points were dropped at home, and NYCFC suffered a rare loss at Yankee Stadium. It is a tough loss to face, but again, it is not shocking this happened. The only shock is that they played well; they just could not score.
New York City FC might have lost, but Philadelphia fans should read this
It does not mean though that Philadelphia should have beaten New York City FC in the playoffs in 2021. No, the star is not an asterisk as their fans suggest. It really is puzzling that the fans are so bitter and have so much hate for NYCFC. What happened before the Eastern Conference final sucks, but in a middle of the pandemic, it was something that could have happened to anyone.
Plus, the Pigeons became hot at the right time, and were able to beat the New England Revolution and the Portland Timbers on the road as well to become the MLS Cup Champions. Philadelphia fans may claim one thing, but in all seriousness, NYCFC won the MLS Cup fair and square.
This is also MLS; there was no guarantee the Union would have won with a fully fit squad. Maybe NYCFC would have played better in that match if they were playing under a normal situation. So please, put the anger and bitterness away, for it is unhealthy to hang onto.
So, congratulations to the Union, for they won the first fixture between the two. They scored the goals, and NYCFC did not. At least now, there is the international break, and Ronny Deila and the players can regroup before they travel to Toronto on April 2. In addition, there is another trophy to play for, for the semifinal matchup in the CCL between the Seattle Sounders is coming up too.
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One loss at home does not define the team, no matter what the haters would say. New York City FC knows what they are capable of, and it is only a matter of when they will start winning more games in MLS again.