NYCFC remain confident in approach despite mistakes

Oct 16, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United players celebrate after a goal by midfielder Lloyd Sam (not pictured) in the during the first half against the New York City FC at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Once again, New York City FC handed their opponents a goal with a turnover playing from the back.

Andoni Iraola’s misplaced pass to Josh Saunders led to D.C. United’s third goal on the stroke of halftime, effectively ending any chance of a comeback. Despite the mistake and the consequence, City won’t change its approach.

“It is not the first mistake made during the season,” head coach Patrick Vieira said. “Playing that way, we are second in the Eastern Conference and that is what is most important for me.

“I have a clear way of how I want the team to play the game and that will not change.”

NYCFC were sloppy and flat for the first half and Vieira said he had hoped for a better performance for their traveling supporters. D.C. were able to keep play in City’s half of the field and create several chances. United head coach Ben Olsen said his side remained compact and organized in the back while their attackers pressed intelligently.

“It was a difficult game for us,” Thomas McNamara said. “They did a good job in preventing us from playing. We didn’t do a good enough job ourselves. We were second-best in a lot of ways today and it was seen in the result.”

D.C. and the New York Red Bulls will join NYCFC in the playoffs in less than two weeks. It is very possible that City will have to play one or both teams if it is to make a run at MLS Cup. And yet, both of those teams executed a tactical plan that stopped City’s attack and exposed their defense. Jason Hernandez said the defense’s turnovers to D.C.’s attack allowed them to create chances – adding that the team will keep its identity even as the playoffs near.

“Our identity is our identity. We’re going to play that way from the first day to the last day,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been tied for first place for a lot of the season and we know that says a lot about our style and we’re not going to change now. In reality if we execute the way we want, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

City were able to find more success in the second half playing from back to front and created chances. Vieira lamented Iraola’s missed pass to David Villa that could have led to their second goal. He also said the pitch at RFK Stadium impacted the team’s play, causing several miscues from the NYCFC attack. City can put the missed passes and missed shots behind them, Vieira said, as he looks at the season as a whole rather than by each of the 34 games.

By the way, Game 34 is next Sunday.

“I think if we were to lose, now would be the right time to lose to them,” Hernandez said. “If we see them again, we understand that a good performance against them at home got us three points. We understand that a poor performance against them, we lost tonight. I think understanding different approaches, especially against this team, is good going forward. I’d rather lose now than three games from now.”