The storyline coming into tonight’s match for NYCFC centered around one main issue: who would score goals with Taty Castellanos out? That question was answered by three different players: Talles Magno, Maxi Moralez, and Jesus Medina. With that in mind, scoring three goals at “home” should surely mean that NYCFC picked up the corresponding three points, right?
A very disappointing defensive performance proved otherwise, as FC Dallas scored three goals of their own, all against the run of play, to split the points. NYCFC would have keyed in on young Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi coming into tonight’s match, but it was his supporting cast who did the damage. The NYCFC back four looked disjointed throughout the match, with Dallas able to counter attack with relative ease.
Ronny Deila even subbed off James Sands, a rarity for a coach to sub off a starting center back in the middle of the match. However, Dallas found a way through the new back line to equalize after NYCFC took a 3-2 lead on Magno’s goal. Subbing off Sands felt harsh, as the entire back line struggled throughout the night. After the game, Deila confirmed that it was due to him being fatigued. Anton Tinnerholm failed to clear a cross which led to the first FC Dallas goal, and Alex Callens was out of place multiple times in the match.
On the left side of the defense, Gudi Thorarinsson turned in a strong attacking performance and was directly involved in two goals. Cacha Acevedo had a largely brilliant match, but this was overshadowed as his turnover created the opportunity for Dallas to score their third goal. Losing the lead twice in a mid-week “home” match against a team on the outside of the playoff picture is less than ideal, and NYCFC have made it a habit to find a way to lose points despite strong performances.
Despite these defensive frailties, there are definitely positives to take from this match. To start — Héber is back! The Brazilian forward got his first game time in almost a year after tearing his ACL, coming on for the last 15 minutes of the match. He is sure to play a role in the playoff push and, as he gets more game time, is the type of natural goalscorer that this squad lacks.
Talles Magno also scored his first goal for the club, finishing a great cross from Gudi. The 19-year-old Designated Player had some strong flashes of quality throughout the game, and showed good composure in finishing off this chance. Magno has been worked slowly into the squad throughout the season, but had a strong performance playing out of position tonight which will hopefully lead to more playing time and goals for the rest of the season.
Jesus Medina was also a standout performer tonight. His assist on the first goal was one of the best passes of the season, and he was clinical in crashing the goal to score the second. Medina is a player whose performances are directly tied to his confidence, and a performance like tonight could hopefully lead to a string of good games.
All in all, this felt like a 2015 NYCFC game. There was attacking quality, goals, and open play. However, they were surprisingly disorganized and looked very shaky at the back. Despite this, the talent along the back line is much stronger than those teams of the past, and has been consistently good throughout most of the season. I expect the defense to sort itself out, and allow the immense quality in attack to shine in both the next match against FC Cincinnati and next week’s double derbies against the New York Red Bulls.
It is time to turn these performances into wins.