Final Thoughts: New York City FC 0-0 Colorado Rapids

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Well, it wasn’t the explosive performance at Yankee Stadium, nor the emotionally charged season opener against Orlando City, but New York City FC still managed to secure positive results against the Colorado Rapids.

NYCFC continued to deploy their center-heavy attack, balanced by the calming influence of their veterans on the back line — and in net.  While most will come out of the draw spouting about the performance of Josh Saunders, it was the heart of the veteran line — and the defensive midfielders in front of them — that helped contain and neutralize the quick legs of the Rapids.

That said, the team looked toothless on attack.  Once again, David Villa was forced to create on his own, with little wing support from the midfield or back line.

Sporting KC is a proven winner.  Coach Peter Vermes is a meticulous tactician with the tools to take the match to Jason Kreis and his side.  Still, Yankee Stadium has proven to be a 12th man for NYCFC once before. Success will be defined by a repetition of that performance.

Before we move on to KC, lets take a look a the week that was:

MEARA’S LOSS, SAUNDERS’ GAIN

As NYCFC began to shape their roster this offseason, the acquisition of Ryan Meara on a season long loan from the New York Red Bulls certainly raised the expectation that the Fordham product would be the team’s starting keeper.

It’s a sound conclusion.  After all, NYCFC arranged for Meara’s arrival and demonstrated his worth, starting most of the opening matches in preseason — until succumbing to injury.

That opened the door for the afterthought, Josh Saunders.

How Saunders was ever overlooked for the position, particularly amongst the team’s fan base, seems almost unthinkable three matches into his starting reign.  The veteran net minder and MLS Cup winner has demonstrated his class throughout the club’s opening affairs, highlighted by a man of the match performance at Colorado.

As the team continues to go through their expansion, they should consider themselves lucky to have the security that Saunders brings to the table.

WIDTH … OR LACK THERE OF

Watching David Villa lead the attack at Yankee Stadium was a majestic sight.  The Spanish international put all of his tricks and tools on display, using his seldom-acknowledged quickness, smarts — and of course, his lethal feet — to pin back a bewildered New England Revolution, leading the club to victory.

However, that strategy seems predicated on the club’s ability to sustain possession and dominate the heart of the pitch.

That can be a bit easier at Yankee Stadium than most venues.  With a narrow field measuring somewhere between 68 yards and the club’s proclaimed 70 yard figure, NYCFC has developed their system to make the small spaces a strength.

In stadiums like the Citrus Bowl or the expansive Dicks Sporting Goods Park, that narrow mentality simply does not play out.

Without strong wing options, Villa once again struggled to create.  And it certainly didn’t help to lose Josh Williams in the run up to the match, forcing loanee Shay Facey into an unfamiliar fullback slot.

Width won’t be an issue this weekend at Yankee Stadium, but eventually, the team must figure out a way to stretch opposing sides on the road.

MLS VETERAN DEFENDERS KEEPING TEAM AFLOAT

Jason Kreis took on Chris Wingert in a moment of transition.  A lifelong fullback, the Long Island native has slowly begun looking towards a career at center back to elongate his playing days as much as possible.

Three matches in, Wingert has proven up to the task.

Meanwhile, the oft-overlooked Jason Hernandez has been a rock on defense.  A lifelong MLS starter, Hernandez has brought the leadership and cool expected from a 31-year-old, pairing well with Wingert — and holding his own against speedy attackers.  Colorado certainly had their fair share of speedsters this weekend, but none were able to break the tandem down.

Sporting KC will be a difficult task for the budding duo, but like keeper Josh Saunders, this underestimated tandem is proving everyone wrong.


Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /nfs/c12/h02/mnt/211961/domains/empireofsoccer.com/html/wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 399

Warning: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /nfs/c12/h02/mnt/211961/domains/empireofsoccer.com/html/wp-content/plugins/bmo-expo/classes/theGallery.php on line 136