NYCFC mask defensive issues with stunning offense, smart tactics



New York City FC scored four goals on the road in their first game under a new head coach. They also conceded three times, repeating their defensive struggles from a year before.

Overall, a road victory to open the season is cause for celebration for this new-look NYCFC side. However, the conflicting realities forced Patrick Vieira to admit that NYCFC were not at its best following yesterday’s season opener.

“I think it was a really good team performance,” Vieira said. “I strongly believe we are not at our best at the moment because it was the first game of the league. We will get better and stronger. But I am proud of the team because when we went to a difficult [formation] especially in the last 15-20 minutes, we stuck together and we worked hard.”

NYCFC switched from a 4-3-3 to a defensive 3-4-3 late in the second half by moving Ethan White to centerback and moving Ronald Matarrita up to midfield. The shift gave New York City’s defense a spare man to help it cover the Chicago Fire‘s forwards who had been creating chances running in behind the backline.

The switch worked perfectly as the Fire only managed one shot after David Accam converted his penalty in the 72nd minute.

Offensively, NYCFC played as well as any road team in MLS could play on Sunday. New York City had 60 percent of the possession, completed nearly 80 percent of its passes, had seven players take 10 total shots on target and capped off the evening with four different goalscorers. Midfielder Thomas McNamara opened the scoring with a curled shot from distance in the tenth minute. McNamara credited the team for keeping its spacing, allowing to create enough room for him to shoot.

It is still too early to expect the New York City squad to fully execute what Vieira asks of them. There are encouraging signs such as the team’s high press and wingers Tony Taylor and Khiry Shelton dribbling at defenders and getting on the scoresheet.

Still, there are concerns. The midfield trio struggled to track runners leading to Razvan Cocis‘ goal and Kennedy Igboananike‘s second half opportunity and giveaways while playing from the back have been an issue in 2016.

Vieira said he was most impressed with NYCFC’s ability to stick to his principles through the match’s toughest moments.

“That was the type of game I was expecting because when I look at Chicago Fire, the games they played in the preseason, we saw a well organized team,” Vieira said. “Those were the type of game we were expecting—difficult games.

“Both teams I think worked really hard today and we managed to come out on top. That was good. It wasn’t easy and I am sure that if we keep working hard, we will go really well this year.”

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  • PanAtx

    “stunning”, “smart”. Yeah. I watched that game. Nothing stunning or smart. Looked more like neither team had any defense and the ref was asleep.

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  • Anthony

    Smart tactics?? Are you high, they were a total mess!! They constantly got exposed in transition because of POOR tactics and personnel.

    • slowleftarm

      why don’t u shut it jackass

      • slowleftarm

        Come on fake me – we all know the real slowleftarm doesn’t call people names.

        • Allan

          go away loser

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  • Larry\’s Momma

    First game of the year…no going to make too much of it, but Mr. Pirlo gave away the ball more in one game, then his entire career. He looks way out of place.
    Waiting for the real Pirlo to show one of these games.

    • Smith

      That IS the real Pirlo at this point in his career.

  • John

    Great win by NYCFC , 3 points on the road excellent. Scored 4 goals great. Defense needs a lot of work. Coming home to 40K + fans on Sunday.

    BTW NYCFC will draw more in one game than the Cosmos will the whole season.

    • Anthony

      You can have the inflated 40K+ spectators and tourists, we will take the trophies and the head-to-head meetings.

      • John

        Do Minor league titles count in the USA?

        Who won the minor league world series last year ? who knows and who cares.

        • Allan

          this is a shame of a franchise. Please fold it up. Pathetic !

      • slowleftarm

        Still hanging your hat on an open cup PK shootout win where NYCFC couldn’t even be bothered to field its best team? Anyway finishing last in MLS is still more impressive than a minor league trophy.

  • Sean

    How did the team manage a 3-4-3 during the last 15-to-20 minutes of the match? At 69′, Viera subbed off Tony Taylor for Mikey Lopez, so the team was down one left wing and up one holding midfielder. Did Matarrita push all the way up the pitch into the attacking third?

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