Vieira expects better beginnings from NYCFC


by Christian Araos

If New York City FC are to end their five-match winless streak, they will have to improve on their first half play, head coach Patrick Vieira said Wednesday.

“Something we have to take from Columbus is our lack of commitment, especially in the first half,” Vieira said. “We didn’t compete enough in duals to attempt to get something from the game. I think if we don’t start well, we will make it more difficult for ourselves. This is something that has to change.”

In each of their last two losses, NYCFC conceded within seven minutes. Vieira criticized his side’s focus when City allowed Cyle Larin to score the only goal in their March 18 match against Orlando City SC. An unmarked Ethan Finlay opened the scoring last week for Columbus Crew SC, a mental mistake among many that has plagued NYCFC this season.

“It’s just concentration,” Vieira said. “It’s for players to get more focused and of course for me as a manager to remind them how important it is to start the game well. The way we finish our games mean it’s not physical, it’s the mental. There is a small switch at the beginning of the game for the 90, 95 minutes.”

Though David Villa‘s late penalty was the only time City have scored in the final ten minutes this year, their attack created chances deep into the second half in both of their last two matches. Justin Meram‘s goal in the 80th minute sealed the win for Crew SC. Meram’s goal is the latest NYCFC have conceded in any of its matches this season.

NYCFC, however, face a Philadelphia Union side that has scored after the 90th minute in both of their previous home matches in 2016.

“[The Union] is a team that is full of young, energetic players who can run for 95 minutes,” Vieira said. “They are well-organized and physically, it will be hard for us. It will be difficult but at the same time it will be as well hard and difficult to move their block because they defend really compact. I believe that we have what we need to give them a good game.”

Vieira said he remains committed to using the 4-3-3 on the road and encouraging his team to attack — even if it could leave them exposed in the back. He noted that approach culminated in Patrick Mullins nearly salvaging a point in stoppage time.

Though that philosophy may not end the winless streak, Vieira said he and his team need to be patient.

I have to be patient and the club has to be patient, the players have to be patient because the way we play is really positive,” Vieira said. “We are trying to build something in the long term, something really strong and really positive and we are working well. We are working hard and let’s see what’s going to happen in the next two, three months. At the moment, I’m quite pleased with the level where we are and the positive attitude from the players when they are on the field.”