New York's sky blues are off this week following an up-and-down inaugural month. But it's a beautiful day in the Five Boroughs, where pleasant diversions are as plentiful as Ludacris's banded stacks.
New York City sits third in the Eastern Conference with five points through four games. They are one of only three teams in the East with a positive goal differential: NYC and top-of-the-table DC United are +1, while New York Red Bulls are +3.
We're huge fans of the work put in by the ol' chaps at WhoScored.com, so let's dive into the numbers and see what we might learn about Jason Kreis's month-old team!
PASSES PER GAME
|2||Seattle Sounders FC||472.3||29.7||34.3||343.3||65|
|5||New York City FC||458.8||34.3||36.5||321.3||66.8|
|7||New York Red Bulls||448||22||35.7||316.3||74|
|11||New England Rev.||409.3||36.8||37.3||272.3||63|
|13||Real Salt Lake||388.3||29||36.7||274.7||48|
|17||Sporting Kansas City||348.5||30||42.8||222||53.8|
|19||San Jose Earthquakes||346.5||21.5||43.3||225||56.8|
AccLB=Accurate long balls, InAccLB=Inaccurate long balls, AccSP=Accurate short passes, InAccSP=Inaccurate short passes. "Rating" is WhoScored's overall team score scaled 1-10.
- New York City FC ranks sixth in accurate short passing, but fourth-worst in inaccurate short balls.
- Fellow expansion team Orlando City, which attempts very few long balls, currently ranks first in short passing accuracy.
- East leaders DC United and the undefeated Colorado Rapids lead their respective conferences in inaccurate long balls. Let it fly, it don't matter!
"KEY PASSES" PER GAME
|1||New York Red Bulls||2||0.7||1||0.7||0||6.3|
|3||Sporting Kansas City||3.3||2||0||0.5||0.5||6.3|
|6||New York City FC||0.3||0||0.5||0||0||8|
|7||San Jose Earthquakes||3||1.3||0||1||0||4.8|
|8||Real Salt Lake||2.3||0.3||0.7||0.3||0||4.3|
|10||Seattle Sounders FC||2.3||0.3||0.3||0.3||0||3|
|20||New England Rev.||2.8||0.3||0.5||0.8||0.3||5|
WhoScored defines a "key pass" as the final pass before a shot on target.
- That's right, New York City FC ranks dead-last in key crosses, and is one of only two teams without a single key corner. More on that in a moment.
- Columbus has more than double the number of key crosses per game than every team in MLS but one-- Sporting Kansas City.
- ...And guess who's best at key throw-ins? Of course, Matt Besler! Er, Sporting KC!
SHOTS PER GAME
|1||New York Red Bulls||14.3||5.7||0.3||5.3||3.3|
|3||Sporting Kansas City||13.5||5.5||0||3||5|
|6||New York City FC||12.5||4.5||0||3.8||4.3|
|7||San Jose Earthquakes||11.5||5||0.3||4||2.5|
|8||Real Salt Lake||11||4.7||0.3||4.7||1.7|
|10||Seattle Sounders FC||8.3||2.7||0||4||1.7|
|20||New England Rev.||12||5.8||0||3.5||2.8|
Colorado and Dallas -- two of three undefeated teams in MLS -- both rank in the bottom four in shots per game.
Only three teams have had more shots blocked per game than New York City FC. It's notable that the sky blues often find themselves searching for a late goal against significant numbers at the back.
NYC's rivals, Orlando City and the Red Bulls, are unafraid to fire shots off-target. They rank second and sixth respectively, while NYC sits fifteenth in off-frame shooting.
DEFENDING PER GAME
|R||Team||Shots pg||Tackles pg||Interceptions pg||Fouls pg||Offsides pg||Rating|
|1||New York Red Bulls||15||21.3||24.3||13.3||2.7|
|3||Sporting Kansas City||11.3||21.3||30.5||12.5||1|
|6||New York City FC||14||20||18.8||15.3||2|
|7||San Jose Earthquakes||13.8||20.8||18.5||14||1.5|
|8||Real Salt Lake||12||18||12.7||15.3||2|
|10||Seattle Sounders FC||8||19.7||15||13.7||0.7|
|20||New England Rev.||10.8||20.3||15.5||12.3||1|
"Shots pg" indicates shots allowed per game.
New York City ranks in the top five in two dubious categories: shots allowed (4th) and fouls committed (5th).
Seattle is the only team to catch their opponents offside less than once per game.
Toronto is the only MLS club currently averaging more shots allowed than tackles per game. They are tied for second-worst in the former and sit dead-last in the latter.
What do these numbers really teach us about New York's newest team?
Some of these stats confirm what we already know: Josh Saunders is a beast of a keeper and has done monolithic work in front of the net for Jason Kreis's team. Nobody is denying that. (If anyone did, I wager that Saunders would casually grab one of Jupiter's moons and throw the damn thing right at them.)
Looking deeper, however, New York City's inability to create chances is costing them results.
After going 180 minutes without allowing a goal, the sky blues have now gone just as long without netting one themselves. Taking on a quality Sporting KC team last week without the slick effervescence of David Villa certainly didn't help, but the team has had great difficulty linking their attacking buildup even with Villa at the front of the formation.
Exacerbated by the team's inability to capitalize on set pieces, NYC's linkup problem arises from two underlying factors: (1) A lack of physicality at the base of the midfield, where the box-to-box Andrew Jacobson is simply asked to do too much, and (2) An utter dearth of "true" wingers to stretch the field and create space in the middle for potential finishers.
Frank Lampard (and the oft-mentioned Daniele de Rossi, perhaps!) would toughen the deep midfield tremendously, but in the meantime, the back four and the bloody-but-unbowed Saunders have had their hands full with counterattackers much more often than anyone would like.
The constant pressure on Jacobson has pinched Mix Diskerud and Ned Grabavoy into the middle to help out, and has de-fanged the New York City attack on numerous occasions as a result.
Mehdi Ballouchy has made a few starts on the right wing, and has never impressed. Ned Grabavoy has patrolled the left side of the midfield with an occasional flash of playmaking gusto, but he's not a proper wing player.
Javier Calle is gaining favor with Jason Kreis and may be able to help, but does he have the creativity and savvy to start every week?
Despite the narrow field in Yankee Stadium, New York City continue to sacrifice width at their own peril.
Fan favorite Khiry Shelton poses one solution on the right side. He has the work rate to be successful from a couple of different outfield positions, and the fans have taken to his growing reputation as a spark plug. Tony Taylor stepped into that role last weekend against Sporting KC, but his energy and initiative were allowed little time to take hold.
Fellow attacker Patrick Mullins has been a bit tentative in comparison. Will we see more of "K19" and "T.T." in Jason Kreis's quest to create more chances on goal?
See any sweet stats out there? Let us know! Meanwhile, check out WhoScored.com's amazing wealth of MLS data. It's the Lord's work, folks!