Fatigued NYCFC reject notion that they “gave up”

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

New York City FC fell flat in its loss to Sporting Kansas City Sunday night. Three games in three different cities this week appeared to catch up with the team, but Fox commentator Alexi Lalas said NYCFC stopped playing ’20 minutes ago’ during this weekend’s broadcast, something head coach Patrick Vieira flatly rejected.

“Do you really think we traveled that far just to give up the game?” Vieira asked a reporter after the match. “That’s not part of our culture and who we are as a football club. Of course we have to take into consideration that was our third game in a week and that played a massive part of the way we played today. But I have to give credit to the players because they gave me everything.”

Vieira said Sporting Kansas City were the better team Sunday night. They held NYCFC to only 33 percent of possession, the lowest in team history. Sporting KC created far more chances and outshot NYCFC as well. Andoni Iraola said the hosts deserved the win.

“They had the better chances,” Iraola said. “We weren’t able to play from the back, it was difficult for us with their press. It wasn’t the best pitch, also. We conceded two goals off of second plays off a set piece. That always punishes you.”

Although conceding an early goal, NYCFC were able to pull level off of a well-worked goal that Frank Lampard neatly finished. Andrea Pirlo intercepted a pass then laid off for an overlapping Ronald Matarrita. Matarrita’s cross went to the feet of Lampard who volleyed inside the near post. It’s his fourth goal in five matches.

“I’ve been injured a long time and now I’ve been able to start games,” Lampard said. “The team’s been playing well and we’ve been creating chances. A lot of chances and I’ve been fortunate enough to score some. You’re happy when you win. But even when you score, if you don’t win, as a gruesome person, I’m not very happy with that.”

NYCFC have two days off before beginning its preparations for Sunday’s match at the Montreal Impact. A travel day and a day of rest will help a team that started seven players that were at least 30 years old and couldn’t match Sporting’s competitiveness.

“We have to remember what made us win four games recently, back-to-back,” Lampard said. “We’ll take out the negatives today and look back at the game a bit and realize that if we drop our standards, we’re going to lose games. That’s the nature of the MLS. You get punished. So it’s about picking ourselves up. Getting back to New York, working hard and looking forward to the game at the weekend.”