Let's have some real talk.
New York City — right now — are not a good team, at all. They are not a playoff team, at all. As it stands, seven games in, they will be lucky to do that.
Now, it's early in the season. And, in fairness, this is a team that was missing Mix Diskerud (thanks to Jurgen Klinsmann drafting him into a meaningless friendly on Wednesday) and David Villa, plus the ghost of Frank Lampard and whomever they sign as a third designated player. So, you know, they could conceivably improve. The LA Galaxy have, in recent seasons, made art of doing just that: starting slow, only to kick it on in magnificent stretch runs, which have seen them win the league three of the last four years.
But the fact remains: this is not a good team. This is not the LA Galaxy. This is an expansion team, struggling to jell together and find rhythm.
That's why they've only won one game, against a woeful New England team. They play Chicago next, and you'd say they should win that game, but then again, they should've won against Philadelphia, and didn't. You look at the schedule and ask yourself: is this a team that can beat anyone? And the answer is: no, not the way they're playing.
This is a team that's bossing possession, but can't seem to score to save their lives. In fact, I think they're focusing on possession way too much. I've never seen a team take the number of touches New York City takes before shooting the ball. On multiple occasions tonight, Velasquez took 17 touches when three would suffice. And he was far from the only offender.
I'll have a deeper analysis later of New York City's woes, but let's be real: unless some changes take place, this team is not going anywhere.
On to the game itself.
Jason Kreis went with a revised lineup here, thanks to injuries (Villa, Diskerud, Hernandez, and Williams). A 4-3-3 on paper, featuring Javier Calle at left back, ready to spring on offense, and an attacking trident of Patrick Mullins, Tony Taylor, and fan favorite Khiry Shelton.
Unlike recent games, New York City got off to a much brighter start. The game began quietly, until the sixth minute, when Patrick Mullins lined up a free kick and shot, only to have it blocked. In the 16th minute, Mullins had another sharp attempt saved by Portland's keeper. The front three of Tony Taylor — getting his first start for New York City, Khiry Shelton, and Patrick Mullins were interchanging fluidly, and giving Portland's backline fits. It looked like New York City were bound to score at any moment.
Then Taylor went down.
It's the fear that's hung over everyone playing here in Yankee Stadium: would the makeshift field cause an injury? A non-contact injury is never a good thing, and Taylor's was especially gruesome. A knee is never meant to buckle like that. Thirty-three minutes in, head coach Jason Kreis was forced to substitute Sebastian Velasquez for Taylor.
That substitution changed the tenor of the match. Portland was still on the back foot, but from that point on, they began clawing back into the game. The half ended scoreless — not what the Blues wanted.
As the second half began, the Timbers began pressuring, and New York City was having trouble settling in. Portland began looking the more likely of the two teams to score. In the 75th minute, Fandendo Adi barely missed scoring.
Two minutes later, Dairon Asprilla did.
And that was the game.
To their credit, New York City kept pressing. With five minutes of stoppage time, they had a number of good chances to rescue a point. But they could never put it together to actually do so. In the end, it was the Portland Timbers who came away with all three points. Going into Friday's game against Chicago, they are now on a five game winless streak. Let's see if they can snap it — but don't hold your breath.