I’m not even gonna lie to you — I did not enjoy New York City FC’s 0-0 draw against New England Revolution. It was boring. There was no space. Gillette Stadium had this awful fucking shadow that loomed over more than half the width of the pitch. The artificial turf caused bad bounces throughout...
The list goes on.
On top of that, NYCFC did not play their best football, especially in the first half. Throughout the first set of 45 minutes, City didn’t do all too much. As a matter of fact, they seemed to be thoroughly outplayed by Bruce Arena’s side for much of the opening minutes. And had the Blues not had the talents of Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, and Sean Johnson, it’s possible they would’ve conceded a goal to the Revs and have had to chase the game from that point on.
But... no such travesty happened. NYCFC hung on, weathered the storm, and kept the game scoreless going into halftime. And by the time the second half got into gear, the game opened up and the opportunities became more frequent. And even though none of these chances ultimately bore fruit, the same can be said for the Revolution and their chances.
The result — a 0-0 tie. And for my money, that isn’t a bad result.
Gillette Stadium is not an easy place to play. The aforementioned artificial turf is hell on the legs of players. On top of that, NYCFC did not have their most optimal squad available to them, missing five starters due to a combination of injuries, precautions, and yellow card accumulation with star playmaker Maxi Moralez and young defensive genius James Sands being among those absent. Despite being removed from the club’s official injury report, left back Ronald Matarrita — who is in the midst of a big comeback season after his travesty in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs — was scratched from the lineup. Additionally, Anton Tinnerholm was placed on the bench due to tired legs and missed 2⁄3 of the match. Jesus Medina also had a nagging leg injury, but was said to be “good” for future matchups. To account for this, two NYCFC players — Nicolas Acevedo and Joe Scally — received their first-ever MLS starts.
The club was also facing a side they had just played in the same exact place just over two weeks prior. Any analysis that expected a New England team — coached by Bruce Arena, mind you — to roll out the same game plan that would’ve seen them thoroughly outplayed by New York City for a second consecutive time within a three-week period was credulous at best. Despite struggling to consistently grab all three points from contests this season, New England, if anything, has avoided losing games in 2020. In 12 league matches this season, the Revolution have only lost three times.
And when you break it all down, the Revs are quite similar to NYCFC. Despite their struggles offensively (they’ve only scored 10 goals this season, and only have had two games where they’ve scored multiple goals), the Revolution have been defensively stout. In 12 competitive games, New England has only conceded 11 goals which is good for the third fewest allowed in the Eastern Conference. NYCFC being unable to hit the net in Foxborough is more indicative of NER’s defensive prowess than it is City’s struggles with attacking this season, an area we’re acutely aware of.
If you’re going back to City’s 2-0 win over the Revs on September 2, you are looking at the exception. Not the rule.
“We were more dominant... on the 2nd of September,” NYCFC manager Ronny Deila told the press following the Revs game. “But I’m proud of the boys. I think they worked really hard again today — a good attitude. There was a lot of changes in the [lineup]. I think the players that get their first MLS starts did a good job. And we get a result with us in a difficult place, so I’m very happy with one point.”
We asked Deila if he was truly satisfied with one point and if his side was deserving of the win. Deila doubled down on his earlier comments.
“I think there’s always an opportunity to get all three [points],” Deila mentioned. “But I think we didn’t deserve more than one today. They had their chances as well, it was an even game. I think they maybe had a chance or two more than us. So they end up with one point [and] I’m very, very happy with [it].”