NYCFC Lets Two Leads and Two Points Slip

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By CHRISTIAN ARAOS

NYCFC logoNew York City FC lost two leads and two points Wednesday night.

Despite Miguel Camargo‘s first goal in Major League Soccer, NYCFC was unable to hold onto a 2–1 lead and conceded an 86th minute goal at Yankee Stadium to draw with the New England Revolution. It’s points dropped for NYCFC against a team it felt it should have beaten and it has Coach Patrick Vieira ruing the team’s naiveté.

“We can talk about conceding the goal late,” Vieira said. “We can talk about the number of chances we create, but yes, we just have to be more. … We can talk about concentration. We can talk about focus, but we have been naive with the way we were defending today.”

For a visiting team fielding a rotated lineup, the Revolution (4-5-5, 17 points) started the game well. Coach Jay Heaps fielded a 4-3-3 in an attempt to pin NYCFC’s fullbacks deep and hamper their efforts to build up from back to front. It mostly worked except for when City found its way through the pressure and into gaps between New England’s midfield and defense. Maxi Moralez and David Villa turned this vacancy into a home.

Villa was able to float into that space on left wing and dribble past five Revolution players and surge into the area. He cut back to an open Jack Harrison who finished into the empty net in the 16th minute for his sixth goal of the season and second this week. The lead would last 10 minutes as City’s zonal marking scheme lost Kei Kamara allowing him to redirect a corner past Sean Johnson from a tight angle with no defender nearby.

Adjusting and protecting the chance to get a point on the road, Heaps had his side drop deep to start the second half. As a result the gap between midfield and defense closed and City struggled to create chances for the first 15 minutes of the second half. Vieira made the like-for-like change of Thomas McNamara for Camargo, which ultimately bore fruit. The goal came once Villa and Moralez found space on left wing to exploit.

The Revolution immediately began to throw numbers forward adding Juan Agudelo and Chris Tierney to boost the attack. They were able to put City under pressure with long balls pumped toward the two forwards and won a corner on 85 minutes. City was only able to clear out to Kelwyn Rowe showed a nice bit of skip before floating a cross from right wing over Frederic Brillant‘s head and onto Xavier Kounassi who headed home at the back post past a helpless Johnson.

“When the game is on the line, we need to be sharper mentally,” Johnson said. “We’ll sort it out. We’ll get back to training tomorrow and sort it out.”

Johnson added after that on plays such as that, the defense is supposed to leave the back post unmarked to focus on intercepting service into the area. The goal was the first City conceded after the 75th minute this season but it conjures memories of a chaotic 2015 and the “presents” of 2016. Harrison said despite the memories, he is not worried about the team’s ability to close out matches.

“It’s only one match and we’ve been doing really well this season,” Harrison said. “No individual is to blame. It’s a team thing and unfortunately we just gave up a late goal today. I don’t think it’s something to be concerned about. We definitely will look over it however and see what we can do to prevent this in the future.”