Mikey Lopez apologizes to fans for Open Cup loss

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

The most frustrating aspect of last night was that New York City FC didn’t win, Mikey Lopez said.

The midfielder returned to the lineup after suspension and injury to play 90 minutes against the New York Cosmos, only to slap the turf in frustration after a 1-0 defeat.

“We always expect to create chances but tonight we couldn’t finish them,” Lopez said. “We wanted to win this game. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way and now we have to focus on Saturday against Philly.”

By the time Lopez spoke, the reactions from NYCFC fans were already pouring in. All were in despair, some blamed Patrick Vieira’s selection, some blamed individual players and many others said NYCFC did not take the Open Cup as seriously as it said it would.

Lopez said that was incorrect.

“We did take this seriously,” Lopez said. “I want to say that we’re sorry, I’m sorry. As much as it hurt [the fans], we’re hurting as well because we wanted to win this game and we wanted to make a run and try to win this tournament.

“I just want to say I’m sorry and we’re sorry and hopefully [the fans] can stick with us. We want them to stick with us and hopefully we can see them on Saturday. But this was not taken lightly by us and we’re hurting as well.”

In Lopez’s view, the fact that NYCFC lost to the Cosmos only matters so much — nor would it have greatly mattered if NYCFC had lost to the Red Bulls or any other local team.

“It hurts more because we wanted to win this tournament,” Lopez said. “We don’t take losing lightly. As an athlete, we don’t like losing. Every loss hurts. Yeah, it’s a derby and it hurts more because we lost a derby but we don’t like losing. No matter if it’s a derby, a friendly game, we don’t like losing any games. Even in training, we don’t like losing games there.

“We understand the hurt…like I said, we’re hurting just as much or even more because we don’t like losing. This is what we do, this is our life and we don’t like losing. We just don’t like losing.”

City are 0—6 in derbies since the club began play in 2015. Wednesday night’s loss was the sixth loss in all competitions in 2016 while the team only has four wins. Lopez said he is able to give 90 minutes for NYCFC in their next match Saturday against the Philadelphia Union if asked. He said channeling the hurt feelings into wins takes work.

“We just gotta work,” Lopez said, “keep working hard, keep working hard. It starts in training, we gotta keep working hard there and just keep believing and working hard in games. It’s going to turnaround, it’s a matter of time. We’ll just keep working hard no matter what.”