Skip to content

Learning Curve: An improving New York City win again

NYCFC put in the best 90' of the season in their 2-0 win over DC United — hey, a game that was fun to watch!

There is no "L" in teamwork | Courtesy

What a difference a week makes.

Last Saturday, New York City FC beat the New England Revolution 2-0 at Yankee Stadium, but that scoreline flattered the home team. New York City deserved the win, although a struggling New England could have easily stolen a result in The Bronx.

We saw a much-improved New York City tonight. This squad showed the same intensity and energy they displayed against Portland Timbers on March 9. But instead of folding in the second half and losing in stoppage time to a team that wanted it more, they amped up the pressure as the game wore on.

It was easily the most coherent and 90 minutes New York City played this year, and the most attractive. This team was fun to watch.

The possession-first style preached by head coach Nick Cushing looked more dangerous tonight than it did all season as a midfield that often gives away the ball made crisp passes that opened up the United defense. Keaton Parks and James Sands circulated the ball along the wings, stretching United and forcing their attack to rely on long balls over the top when they gained possession.

Courtesy McLachBot

It wasn't just the attack. The defensive unit that was sometimes pulled apart last week against by not-great Revolution was solid tonight against United's much tougher forwards.

Center-backs Thiago Martins and Birk Risa handled the larger, more physical, and more experienced Christian Benteke and Cristian Dajome, limiting the strike team to just two shots. They didn't do it alone. The rest of the team tracked back diligently, using their numbers and positioning to frustrate a Benteke who ended the evening with an xG of just 0.19.

It was a well-drilled defense. Give credit to head coach Nick Cushing for providing the team with a game-plan that worked. And give credit to a the team for executing that plan. United's total xG of 0.62 was their second-lowest of the season, trailing their 0.55 xG against FC Cincinnati. That was the only other time this year that United failed to score.

There are many positives to take from New York City's performance. But there is still much this squad need to work on fixing.

There's the finishing, for one. NYCFC took 22 shots in their 2-0 win over DC United tonight at Citi Field. Just eight of those were on target, and most of them didn't trouble United goalkeeper Alex Bono, who finished the game with a six-pack of saves.

Courtesy FotMob

But those 22 shots came about because this New York City are starting to look like a team. Up until tonight, they could look like a group of talented if young players who happen to share the same field. While they aren't yet living up to their enormous potential, the growth and improvement we've seen over these past few weeks point to good things ahead.