Well, at least Patrick Vieira tried something.
New York City lost again. They aren't looking good these days, are they? That's five goals conceded on the trot in two consecutive road games. This time, it was the new-look Philadelphia Union that took all three points.
He who dares, wins. And on a brisk evening at Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia was the team that ultimately dared.
And they ultimately won.
"A lot of frustration, a lot of anger," Vieira said after the game, "because I believe we should go back to New York with at least a point."
Vieira, for his part, remains plainly unafraid of shaking things up in the starting XI. After the Blues were downright predated on the road at Columbus last weekend, he dropped his entire midfield: Tommy McNamara and Mix Diskerud would appear off the bench, and Andrea Pirlo didn't make the team sheet. L'architetto didn't even make the trip to Pennsylvania.
But hey, Vieira tried something. Here's how they lined up.
During the week, we called for Federico Bravo-- the Argentine is not just a one-man wrecking crew, but also the one-man cleanup crew that tidies everything up afterwards. But this was the first time that we saw Fede trot out without Pirlo. Instead, enter Kwadwo Poku, whose physical prowess was muted on the day. He was subbed off before the hour. Enter Mikey Lopez, whose tone-deaf combativeness on the pitch cost him a yellow, and nearly more. He was removed after 78 minutes.
Vieira shuffled the deck. It didn't work.
Forget controlling the run of play. Forget bossing 65% of possession. Forget that Vieira said that NYCFC was "by far the better team." On this day, for all the measurables in the visitors' favor, this result came down to want.
And Philly wanted it more. Way the eff more. Watch:
That's the difference between three points and whatever this feels like right now.
On a day in which NYCFC produced a significant number of pleasing attacking buildups, David Villa shot the ball ten times by himself, and only hit the target once. No other New York City player put a shot on frame. This is a story we've seen before-- run of play turns to ashes in your mouth. If you want the throne, you have to take it. And the Blues got took.
On one hand, you have to hand it to Vieira for his utter fearlessness in picking his starting XI. He's said as much in his public statements. You also have to hand it to Josh Saunders, who did his usual scratchin' and clawin' despite being tasked with building up from the back. But the legendary lapses you see in those clips from Frederic Brillant and Jason Hernandez are just mind-numbing.
CJ Sapong popped up on your scouting report, gents. Did y'all ask him to school you in your own box, or did he just decide to do it independently?
Folks, it boggles the mind that this team didn't score a goal in this affair. Vieira knows this, and said so post-match. But look at the MLS standings right now: the difference between flying and drowning is fascinatingly slight. It only takes one rampant performance to get back in the saddle. Last year, that performance was on the road at Philly, when Tommy McNamara and Kwadwo Poku made their first starts for the team. This year, we're still waiting for that big moment.
If it doesn't come soon, Patrick Vieira's impeccable, almost detached coolness may give way to something much more Jason Kreis-y. And nobody wants that.