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Alex Ring: “If we want to be a top team, we have to play better.”

NYCFC’s captain isn’t pleased with his team’s performance against Atlanta

MLS: New York City FC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how optimistic you may be about New York City FC, their match last night against Atlanta United — a match which ended in a crushing 2-1 defeat that was never really as close as the scoreline might suggest — didn’t pass the eye test. NYCFC didn’t even slightly resemble the classy and technical team we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the past few months.

In a sharp departure from their usual more patient approach, New York City elected to try to beat the Five Stripes through the air with a variety of untimely long balls and low-percentage long shots.

NYCFC captain Alexander Ring was none too pleased with the result and the way the team went about their business in the ATL.

“Yeah, we started [playing well] after they were 2-0 up,” City’s captain told the press. “Before that, it was just playing long balls and they came back fast.”

When asked about Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez’s potential DOGSO infraction against Taty Castellanos — which was only punished with a yellow — Ring elected not to make his feelings known. “Last time I said something about the refs, the Commissioner fined me so I won’t say anything anymore.”

The Ringleader didn’t blame the botched red card on the result, though. Instead, he challenged his team.

“If we want to be a top team, we have to play better. It’s that simple. I think in the first 50-60 minutes we lacked basic things. Most of all, courage. You can’t win games if you don’t play with your heart, with courage — if you only play the safe ball. So yeah, I think there’s a lot to think about after this game.”

I concur, Alex. I concur.

What we saw on Sunday night was a team complacent with their backs against the ropes and making no effort to put themselves on the front foot. That is not the mark of a championship-contending team.

NYCFC will face FC Cincinnati on the road on Saturday, Let’s hope the Boys in Blue can refind their form there and move on from this poor result.