Overall, New York City FC hasn’t had a bad season. While they’re certainly underperforming, the Night Owls lead all of Major League Soccer in xG, xGD, xGD/90, and are second in xGA. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated into world-beating success, being good for only 3rd in the Eastern Conference, 18 points behind the conference-leading New England Revolution.
I guess the obvious question is; why? Why are City drastically underperforming in terms of results? Let’s talk about it.
NYCFC Doesn’t Finish Clinically
Having had to be without primary striker Héber for nearly the entire season, NYCFC have had to rely on Taty Castellanos at the No. 9. And overall, the young Argentinian has done well, scoring 12 goals on the season. Taty also leads the league in many of its analytical categories.
So what’s the problem? Well, Taty wasn’t clinical for much of the season.
Even if he was getting in dangerous positions and creating chances for others, he has underperformed in front of goal. And whenever he has been clinical, he’s been streaky.
And it’s not only Taty, either. The entire team has greatly struggled in front of net. Jesus Medina had a great start to the season, but has since fallen off completely in terms of goalscoring. The same can be said for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Thiago as well.
Score more goals, Pigeons. Pretty please.
Ronny Deila’s Substitution Pattern Is Horrid
For the past two seasons, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every league around the world has five substitutions as opposed to the old three, including MLS.
Apparently, NYCFC manager Ronny Deila didn’t get that memo.
Too often in games, Deila has waited too long to make personnel changes until it’s too late. Sometimes, he waits until after the 70th minute just to make his first.
Having faith in your players to get the job done instead of giving them the hook isn’t a bad quality by any means. And to be fair, Deila has been able to extract a lot of performance out of players due to this belief. But sometimes, even the most thorough planning isn’t good enough for the day, and some improvisation is in order.
In this regard, Deila has been awful. And he needs to get better at it if NYCFC is to become a true force on the pitch and not just on paper.
Ummmmmm, Defense? You Alright?
Even as City were struggling to score during phases of the season, their defense has largely stepped up. Coming into September, NYCFC had conceded nearly the fewest goals in the league. But over the past several weeks, they’ve become incredibly leaky at the back.
Before the game against FC Cincinnati on Saturday, the Night Owls had conceded 8 goals in their last three games; that is almost three games on average. Even in their 2-1 win over Cinci, City’s back line was an open door, conceding chance after chance. All things considered, they were lucky to not draw or even lose the fixture.
Let’s get back to conceding less. Please. Pretty Please.
James Sands Has Fallen Off Since the Gold Cup
Yes, we all love the Sandsman. And seeing him take part in his first Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifiers with the USMNT has been a blast. But lets acknowledge something that we desperately need to: Sands hasn’t been performing as well since his United States call-up.
I don’t know what it is. But ever since he returned to the Night Owls, Sands hasn’t seemed anywhere near as effective as he was before. The discourse earlier this season revolved around Sands being hard to keep from European clubs by year’s end. Now, it’s turned to how he can refrain from making the obligatory slip-and-fall-down once per game.
Maybe this is part of playing in a center back pairing more frequently as opposed the anchor in a back-three or as a No. 6. And maybe the stats tell a slightly different story as to what he’s contributing. But when it comes to the eye test, he hasn’t been passing with flying colors as we’ve become accustomed to over the years.
Yeah, Sands is great, and this is likely just a blip of less-than-great performances. But it’s been a pretty bad blip, and it’s time for him to make a turnaround.