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New York City FC 0-1 Portland Timbers: 3 Things We Learned

Taking stock of a frustrating evening in the South Bronx

MLS: Portland Timbers at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

1. Yes Pirlo. No Party.

I may have used this exact quote in the past, but it feels more than necessary after his performance today. In fact, with the likelihood that at least one of Yangel Herrera or Alex Ring is back for next week’s match, I’m not sure I ever want to see him start a match in an NYCFC kit again. To be fair to him, he was a top three player for us in our match Wednesday night win against Sporting KC, but that was about as rare as a solar eclipse. He is simply no longer good enough to be playing against a team that is going to press him, which is just about every club in MLS. He was the sole reason we conceded the only goal of the match, and there are simply no excuses. There was almost no contact at all when he was stripped of the ball, and instead of chasing Mattocks, he just stood there with his arms out looking at the ref. This isn’t Italy anymore, playing for a top club doesn’t help you with the refs. Again, I don’t know of this is something that we learned, but it something that was being questioned after his first good performance of the season on Wednesday. Pirlo is not good enough for this side anymore.

2. Sean Johnson is a God.

Sean Johnson has had a few games this season where he proved his worth. While most people would be an upgrade over Mr. Josh Saunders, Johnson has been much more than just a simple step up. After earning his first national team call-up in years, he has continued to impress. Earlier in the season, Johnson was making saves that were helping us maybe clinch a point here and there, but everything changed after that match in Los Angeles. That night, he reached the King tier. Since then, he has really tried (and succeeded) to reach the “God tier” in my opinion. We still lost the match, but it had nothing to do with Johnson— take another look at item #1 if you’re looking for somebody to blame. Also, if you’re sitting there reading this and wondering if this is a little bit biased, it is.

3. We Miss David Villa.

Okay. So, this one is, without a doubt, the most obvious thing you’ll read all day. But allow me to explain further. The signing of the 2016 USL MVP should be enough to back up the 2016 MLS MVP, right? Wrong. As much as I hate to admit it — and with limited minutes, this may be unfair to say — but Sean Okoli hasn’t been good enough. He proved that on Wednesday, which is why Patrick Vieira tested a new system including Khiry Shelton against Portland. Now, of course, we can’t expect anybody come into the team and replicate David Villa when he is absent, but we can at least expect a goal here and there, no? NYCFC were creating the chances but they couldn’t put them away, and that probably doesn’t happen with Villa on the field. Okoli definitely has the potential to grow as a player. However, in my opinion, he needs to become more of a Patrick Mullins. You’re not going to get many minutes, and you shouldn’t expect to when you’re playing behind David Villa, but you still have to score. We need somebody who can come on during our captain’s few absences and still find a way to put it in the back of the net.