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First Half Struggles are Most Responsible for NYCFC’s Road Woes This Season

NYCFC’s road woes have been well-documented this season, but failing to score in the first half has probably been the biggest reason why.

MLS: New York City FC at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Another road game, another loss. It seems like every time New York City FC sets foot outside of Yankee Stadium, dropping points is almost guaranteed and Saturday night against the Columbus Crew was no exception.

After a dismal first 45 minutes of failed opportunities and sluggish play, the Boys in Blue fell to the Crew 2-1 after conceding two goals over two minute span in the second half, dropping their road record to a miserable 4-7-3 (W-L-D) on the year. Now, a loss always hurts and winning on the road in MLS is always a tough thing to do. Yet, the implications of Saturday night’s defeat was what made it worse.

Not only did the Pigeons allow the Crew within striking distance of their third place spot in the East, but they also stopped themselves from making their way back into the Supporters’ Shield race after the New York Red Bulls suffered a rare loss.

Needless to say, it was a frustrating evening on all fronts. However, the loss to Columbus just further highlighted the biggest reason why the Boys in Blue have performed so terribly on the road this season: Slow starts.

In the 14 games they’ve played on the road this season, the Boys in Blue have notched at least one first-half goal in seven of them, owning a respectable 3-2-2 record in those games. However, if you haven’t done the math by now, NYCFC is a miserable 1-5-1 when they’re kept off the scoreboard in the first 45 minutes.

Breaking it down just gets worse when you break it down too. In the seven games in which they’ve been shutout in the first half, NYCFC has only scored six goals while conceding 17. In the five losses they suffered in those seven games, City have been shut out three times while allowing 14 of the 17 goals scored against them in their first-half shutout-loss. By comparison, the Boys in Blue have scored just two goals in those five losses.

NYCFC is one of the top teams in MLS, but when it rains, it really pours for the club. Honestly, it seems like the players let their frustration get the best of them if they can’t get going early. However, there is a silver lining. A very thin silver lining, but a silver lining nonetheless.

The Boys in Blue have scored both of their first-half shutout-loss goals under Domè Torrent’s watch. Does that mean they’ve improved under their new coach? I highly doubt it, but it could be an encouraging sign that things can change for the better.

There’s still plenty of games left to play, but the Supporters’ Shield may be out of reach at this point in the season. However, with a playoff berth almost in hand, Torrent and his coaching staff need to find a way to remedy the NYCFC’s road woes if they even want to think about making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Otherwise, any away leg loss may be too hard overcome despite the club’s dominance at home this season.