1. No Settling
New York City Football Club will not go out without a fight in 2017. This is not a very easy side to beat, as the 14-4-7 record would tell you. Something you might not know, however, is that Sunday was the fifth time in thirteen attempts that NYCFC have come back to grab all three points after conceding first this season. This means that even though the Blues have failed to score first in over half their games on the year, they’re still hard to beat. Statistics show that New York City fare most effectively in the 61st-75th minutes, and having somebody like David Villa leading your side is a key factor as to why NYCFC fight so hard late on. The resilience of El Guaje sets an example for all of his teammates. Oh, and it helps that he scores a lot of goals too.
2. Alex Ring’s Importance
At this point, I think this is a given, but I figured I’d mention it just to reiterate it a bit more— Alex Ring has been one of the best and most underrated signings in MLS this season, and Sunday helped prove the point even further. Ring was forced to miss the game through yellow card suspension, just as his midfield buddy Maxi Moralez did last week (and just as Yangel Herrera will be forced to do this Friday in New Jersey). It has never been clearer that this year’s edition of New York City can’t afford to go without Ring for even a single game. Maybe that’s an overreaction, but it is fair to say that his absence was definitely felt.
As somebody who cannot ignore the influence the Finland international has had on each and every match he has played in, it was clear that he’d be a huge loss for NYCFC on Sunday. The partnership with Herrera and Moralez has flourished, but due to injuries and suspensions we have not seen much of that particular trio, and we’ll be forced to watch yet another match without the full trio on Friday at Red Bull Arena. Overall, Yangel and Moralez are probably slightly easier to replace than Ring, and that was evident. Midfield stand-in Mikey Lopez was solid, but he is probably better off as a replacement for Herrera if I was forced to pick. Maxi would also probably be less of a miss as a few other players on the roster are capable of creating chances. Moralez is the best at what he does, but could be replaced when forced to be, as we saw in last weekend’s win at LA. Ring, on the other hand, is irreplaceable. Hopefully, it will be a long, long time before we have to watch this team attempt to make do without him.
3. Jonathan Lewis Is a Game-changer
If anybody was still debating whether Jonathan Lewis was the real deal, they should put that debate to bed. The 20-year-old rookie has looked strong almost every time he’s stepped onto the field, but up until recently his minutes were extremely limited. Lewis’ usage started to increase when Rodney Wallace was sidelined with an injury, and he’s definitely made the case for himself.
As Wallace returned to the NYCFC rotation as a substitute last weekend against the Galaxy, Lewis knew he had to hand in a stellar performance to give Patrick Vieira something to think about upon Wallace’s return to full fitness. True to form, he scored a world-class goal that gave the Blues a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. On Sunday, with Wallace back in the starting XI, Lewis came off the bench to deliver his second straight game-winner in the dying moments. The Akron phenom has once again forced Vieira to make a tough decision. And that’s a good problem for a manager to have.