Here we go. Again.
New York City FC underwhelmed on the field yet again last night as they fell by a score of 1-0 to those energy drinks on the Jersey side of the Hudson River. It’s getting hard and even more frustrating to keep analyzing the performances City has put in this season because it’s me just continually repeating the same thing over and over again.
City looked uninterested and disconnected almost the whole night. They failed to create any high-quality scoring chances from the run of play, and whatever half opportunities they got turned into nothing. It was classic route-one long ball play that made me want to put a foot through my TV.
Tactically, there were multiple issues on multiple different fronts. My main problem came with the decision to sit back deep and concede possession to an inferior New York Red Bulls team. You look at the Red Bulls’ roster, and you see one barren of any real game-breaking talent outside of Kaku who didn’t play till late. They press high and hard; that’s their identity.
In the few moments City cleanly broke out of pressure, you could see they had numbers streaming forward. The issue was those players going forward had no idea what to do. It looks like all of City’s attacking pieces have lost all sense of common soccer knowledge. They couldn’t string a pass together in the final third, and whatever chances they in and around the box resulted in a shot from 25 yards out that sailed 30 feet wide (looking at you, Ronald Matarrita).
Another frustrating thing about this game was the Red Bulls weren’t good either. Outside of the one Daniel Royer chance in the first half that was well saved by Sean Johnson, they didn’t produce any high-quality scoring chances. The Red Bulls’ goal was a half-chance from Kyle Duncan. Was it a goal? It honestly didn’t look conclusive enough to overturn it. Does that matter? No, because Johnson should’ve caught it or parried it, and the problem wouldn’t exist.
There were very little positives from this game. I don’t think City’s defense is a big issue. They look solid in the back most of the time, but again it just comes to avoidable mental mistakes. I’ve also become content with Jesus Medina’s role in this team. He’s not a game-breaker, but he’s been one of City’s best midfielders this season, which isn’t saying much. Finding positives from this game is challenging, but there’s always a silver lining somewhere.
So, what’s truly to blame? Again, it’s hard not to look at Ronny Delia here. This team wasn’t set up to succeed. You can’t sit back against a team like the Red Bulls like NYCFC did last night. The five-in-the-back system works at times, but it hasn’t yielded any substantial positives this season. Personnel wise, Alexander Ring, Keaton Parks, and Medina made up the midfield, which is fine. My issue comes with having Parks playing deep and Ring playing as the No. 8. Ring is a disruptor, a good No. 6, and Parks is great with the ball at his feet. Delia loves trying to stick square pegs into round holes.
It’s hard not to look at City’s horrific start and question Delia’s job security at this point. If the club isn’t at least acknowledging the issues on the field right now, then we have a bigger problem than we first thought. It’s frustrating and will continue to be as the games go on. The season is shortened, so room for error becomes even smaller, and at this rate, City will be nowhere close to the playoffs.
City will play the first-place Columbus Crew on Monday in another game that will surely make us want to cry. I’m lost for words at this point with this team, just score a goal at this point, and I’ll be happy.