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NYCFC’s narrow win over Chicago is cause for concern

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Don’t let the result fool you. This wasn’t a great showing for the Boys in Blue.

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It sucks that, after such a great performance against D.C. United over the weekend, I’m right back to being the negative Nancy when it comes to analyzing New York City FC. This predicament is made even worse when taking into account the Blues have won two straight games.

But, I gotta call it like I see it. And three points notwithstanding, NYCFC’s narrow 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire barely, if at all, passed the eye test.

The game started off well enough. After a bit of back-and-forth in the opening minutes, NYCFC leaped ahead in the 9th minute with a beautiful counter-attack goal, assisted by Héber and tapped in by Taty Castellanos.

The good stopped there, though.

From that point on, City failed to show any semblance of the team we saw in the nation’s capital on Sunday. They lacked possession of the ball (they actually lost the possession battle, holding the ball only 48.4% of the game), the attack seemed to lack cohesion, and the buildup was constantly getting bogged down in the midfield.

To make matters worse, three NYCFC players — namely Alexander Ring, Maxime Chanot, and Anton Tinnerholm — were given yellow cards in the first half, preventing the Pigeons from being able to assert any real pressure when defending.

To put it as sharply as I possibly can, we are lucky this performance came at home and against Chicago of all teams. Had it been on the road (or even at home) against a better squad like LAFC or Toronto FC, NYCFC would have been torched and the #DomeOut train — of which I am definitely still on board — would have resumed charging full steam ahead.

Now, I will concede some ground here: in the long run, I do think the 3-5-2 (or 3-4-3 or 5-3-2 or whatever) is the way to go moving forward. Compared with how this team played through its first 5 games this season, the three-back formation seems to have yielded the best on-field product we’ve seen since Domé Torrent took over last summer.

But, there are still questions surrounding NYCFC as they move forward into the thick of the 2019 season.

1.) Will the team continue to absorb pressure after scoring the first goal?

2.) Can Domé be trusted with rotating the squad in a packed three-game week?

3.) Furthermore, will Domé continue to allow Maxi Moralez to take penalty kicks after two straight misses?

4.) Can Ronald Matarrita, regardless of how talented he is, avoid injury?

I wish I had these answers. I really do. And until they can be answered, my skepticism regarding this team and their chances on winning silverware will remain where it is.