I can’t decide which was uglier: NYCFC’s hapless performance, or the ridiculous playing surface at Gillette Stadium.
Must be humiliating to play on a confusing, NFL pockmarked field inside a half empty stadium. #NYCFC pic.twitter.com/vQiYKuUkhj— Mark F. Bonner (@markfbonner) September 11, 2016
To be fair, Patrick Vieira’s New York City FC squad was the only humiliated party on the night— the hometown New England Revolution took them to school, sent them to time-out, and stole their lunch money on the way to a bossy 3-1 victory Saturday night.
“We didn't play at all,” Vieira said after the game.
“I think we had a lack of desire to compete against [the Revs],” the losing gaffer continued.
Indeed, the visitors never really got their heads into the game long enough for their legs to follow. An early second half tally from Frank Lampard cut a 2-0 scoreline in half, but Revs boogeyman Diego Fagundez struck just nine minutes later. NYCFC’s response over the final half-hour amounted to stuff and nonsense.
Really, without the courage and resolve of netminder Josh Saunders, the Revs could have had five. Or seven. Nine big saves from the veteran kept things from devolving into a farce. Unfortunately, his teammates could’t match his steely resolve on the night.
Occasional U.S. internationals Juan Agudelo (21’) and Lee Nguyen (42’) downright outclassed the frazzled, sputtering NYCFC defense for the evening’s first two goals. Jason Hernandez was inexplicably given yet another nod as right-fullback-in-name-only, while Jefferson Mena got the nod at center back over the tranquil Maxime Chanot.
It did not go well.
Mena makes me bleed from my eye sockets— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) September 11, 2016
With each passing game, Mena looks like a little kid who won a sweepstakes or a reality show competition, as opposed to an actual professional footballer. Either Patrick Vieira lost a bet or Mena is blackmailing him. The whole thing was one massive, discrediting mess.
Without the calming influence of Chanot or Andoni Iraola, the Blues were chaos. Frederico Bravo manned the deep midfield but didn’t impact the game, and even got himself sent off in the latter stages for what was, from every angle, a clean tackle against Gershon Koffie.
In so many ways, the final whistle was mercy.
With Toronto FC’s 2-1 win over Chicago, the Reds overtook NYCFC for first place in the East. If the Red Bulls win today, they’ll leap over the Borough Boys as well. But the good guys still control their own destiny— we won't be singing this tune if next weekend’s massive clash with league-leading FC Dallas goes the way of previous visits from Western powers Colorado and Los Angeles, whom the Blues defeated by a combined six goals to one.
But ya can’t win if ya don’t play.
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NEW YORK CITY FC SQUAD:
Matarrita-Brillant-Mena(Shelton 64’)-Hernandez(Allen 46’)
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION SQUAD:
Nguyen(Bunbury 83’)-Agudelo(Hollinger-Janzen 88’)