The “Distance Run:” NYCFC seek ruthlessness to right ship

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by Christian Araos

If New York City FC had filled the full 90 minutes with distance run, a tie for first place would have been theirs.

Instead, they conceded a stoppage time goal for the second time this month, drawing 2–2 with Orlando City SC.

Now, the talk around camp centers around one word: “ruthlessness.”

“When I talk about being ruthless, I talk about the players in general,” head coach Patrick Vieira said. “When we are defending, it can be the back four quite well-organized but the midfield has to be in the position for the second ball as well. When David is outside the box, we need more people to take more responsibility and go inside the box.

“We just need to be more ruthless in front of the goal. When we create chances we have crosses, we don’t have enough bodies inside the box…”

NYCFC now have one win in eight home matches. It held a lead in four of their five home draws. Yankee Stadium’s narrow field is seen as the source of City’s struggles, but the team have outplayed most of their opponents at home. Yet to convert their play into goals and results requires ruthlessness on both ends.

“We need to be more ruthless in front of the goal,” Thomas McNamara said. “We had the opportunity to score the third goal which would have probably put the game out of reach. But the same time, not giving up a goal late in the game. It’s on both sides of the ball and that’s what great teams do.”

Both of the stoppage time equalizers City conceded were preventable. Against the Montreal Impact, NYCFC’s defense left two players unmarked at the near post and Dominic Oduro finished. Though Vieira said City did better contesting for second balls this week, they were nowhere near the last second ball of Sunday’s match. Kevin Molino was and made them pay.

“I think all eleven guys defend, right?” R.J. Allen said, “I’ll leave it at that.”

On the equalizer, City’s backline were decently positioned to defend Carlos Rivas’ cross. Allen could not get to the deep cross but Cyle Larin barely did and nodded it square towards the edge of the six-yard box. Jason Hernandez focused on marking the tallest player on the field, Seb Hines, with Frédéric Brillant covering. No one was at the six-yard box to mark Molino.

“…But at the same time when we are defending, we need to be more ruthless,” Vieira said. “What I mean is that we have to have the desire to defend. That is a critical moment of the game. I believe that between the two boxes our passing, our movement is really quite good. But where we need to improve is in the 18 yards and that is the truth of our game.”

Mix Diskerud shared an amended version of Kipling’s If after the match to salute Orlando City for ‘not limiting the game to 90 minutes worth of distance run.’ Kipling ended his poem with the speaker calling on his son to believe in himself while remaining committed to a deeper cause:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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  • Says It All

    Allen’s response is the right one. He’s taking a jab at Pirlo because that was Pirlo’s man to mark. And he’s been in the coach’s and fans’ favor this season.

    Mix’s response is the wrong one. He’s takin a jab at the Metros because they played with a pragmatic style and hustle instead of his prefered idealistic and relaxed style. And he’s been in the dog house.