New York City FC lost to Inter Miami CF 3-2 on Saturday night at DRV PNK Stadium in a game they had no business losing. NYCFC led 2-1 at halftime after a stoppage-time goal from Thiago Andrade. Things continued to look up as NYC controlled the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half.
Then, things went south. New York City began to give the ball away too often and too easily. NYCFC’s mistakes brought Miami right back into the game. After three giveaways in as many minutes, Miami had struck level.
It still looked like City could grab all three points after the goal. They settled down a bit and began to look dangerous in the attack again. That was true until Alfredo Morales’ errant back pass played Alejandro Pozuelo in on net and allowed him to do what he always does to NYCFC, break their hearts.
NYCFC: 17 shots, 5 on goal, 57% possession, 545 passes, 88.8% accuracy, 12 fouls
Miami: 11 shots, 6 on goal, 43% possession, 422 passes, 83.2% accuracy, 14 fouls
Giving the game away
If not for two moments of madness from NYCFC Saturday night, there would be growing optimism within the club and the fanbase. After all, the attack was much more dangerous than it had looked in the previous couple of games and three points on the road always bring about good feelings. However, those two moments did happen and they are extreme cases of what’s been brewing for a while now for NYCFC.
Before discussing the mistakes, let’s take a look at the one that led to Miami’s equalizer:
The mistake here lies with Maxi Moralez who felt that play should have been stopped or the ball should have been played out because of the two players down on the field. Either way, it’s unacceptable for anyone to give up on a play because they’re expecting or waiting for a whistle.
Bottom line: Play to the whistle, no matter what.
Even after Maxi gave up on the play and allowed an uncontested cross into the box, NYC still had a chance to escape unscathed if they just defended well. Obviously, that didn’t happen either. All three NYC defenders in the area, Alfredo Morales, Nicolas Acevedo, and Maxime Chanot, run at Gonzalo Higuain and leave Ariel Lassiter wide open in behind to have a free shot at Sean Johnson.
Now, let’s take a look at Miami’s winner:
This one’s about as obvious as it gets. Alfredo Morales almost literally hands Miami the chance with an awful back pass that serves more as a perfect through ball for Pozuelo, who of course puts his chance away. This is as uncharacteristic as they come since Morales has been tremendous in the defensive midfield for New York City for a while now. However, that doesn’t take away at all from the awfulness of this play from him.
All it took for NYCFC to not lose this game was to not make massive mistakes like the two above. Yet, they did and lost the game. These were the two biggest errors and the two that led to goals, but throughout this game, NYC continuously gave the ball away to Miami and made mistake after mistake. In past games, the errors weren’t as gargantuan as these two and the defense had time to recover, but tonight this lingering issue finally fully caught up to them and cost the team three points.
Changing up the starting lineup
No matter the result Saturday night, the lineup was going to be a point of interest. Interim head coach Nick Cushing shook things up in the attack and most notably benched Heber and played Talles Magno up front. The other changes included Maxi Moralez playing in the defensive midfield with Alfredo Morales and Nicolas Acevedo playing right back with Tayvon Gray seemingly hurt and unavailable, as he stayed behind in New York.
For the most part, it looked like these changes worked out, especially in the attack. For the first time since Taty Castellanos left the club, the attack looked dangerous with Talles Magno spearheading a front three which included Gabriel Pereira and Thiago Andrade. Attacking-wise, it was a solid first half for NYCFC. They created big chances and most importantly, scored two goals.
First up was a beautiful set piece goal finished off by Talles Magno:
Right off the training ground, NYCFC executed this one to perfection. Maxi started it off with a great ball over the top that found Maxime Chanot’s head. Then, Talles Magno finished it off perfectly, and he seemingly found his way as the central attacker tonight. That’s right, central attacker. Not striker.
After Saturday night, it seems like Talles Magno can play as the center forward for NYCFC, but not as an out-and-out striker like Taty Castellanos or Heber. Talles Magno enjoyed much more success Saturday when he was able to roam freely and not be restricted to that striker role. Certainly, something to grow on going forward.
Alejandro Pozeulo: NYCFC Killer
If it wasn’t already official before Saturday night, it is now. Alejandro Pozuelo tortures NYCFC at a rate that has only been matched by three other players in history. He is now tied for third in all-time goals scored against NYCFC. Bradley Wright-Phillips has twelve, Sebastian Giovinco has ten, and Cyle Larin and Pozuelo have nine.
Putting your name in the same ranks as BWP and Giovinco in NYCFC history means you’ve done some truly horrifying things to this team. Those scary performances continued Saturday night as he put away both major chances that were sent his way. Thankfully, he didn’t take a penalty in this game or he might have Panenka’d NYC again.
Just like that penalty kick at Citi Field in 2019, this game feels like one you never want to see again.
Looking ahead, NYCFC’s next game is at “home” in Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night against Charlotte FC which now feels like a must-win game against a much worse team. Also, the loss Saturday combined with a Montreal win means NYC dropped to third place in the Eastern Conference.
NYCFC, Talles Magno 34’
Miami, Alejandro Pozuelo 39’
NYCFC, Thiago Andrade 45’+2
Miami, Ariel Lassiter 63’
Miami, Alejandro Pozuelo 84’
Miami, Gregore, Off the ball foul, yellow card, 32’
NYCFC, Alfredo Morales, foul, yellow card, 41’
Miami, Robert Taylor, foul, yellow card, 48’
NYCFC, Malte Amundsen, foul, yellow card, 55’
NYCFC, Maxime Chanot, foul, yellow card, 77’
Miami, Alejandro Pozuelo, excessive celebration, yellow card, 84’
NYCFC, Santiago Rodriguez, foul, yellow card, 86’
Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Ryan Graves
Fourth Official: Matthew Thompson
VAR Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistant VAR Referee: Jonathan Johnson