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NYCFC can't solve Djordje Petrović, settle for scoreless draw with Revs

The 0-0 draw feels like two points dropped by NYCFC as the team's current winless streak approaches the worst run of form in club history.

Goalless for Pride Day at Yankee Stadium, though Gabi Pereira came closest to breaking through |

New York City FC’s winless run was extended to seven MLS matches due in large part to the heroics of New England Revolution goalkeeper Djordje Petrović, who made multiple world class saves to preserve a 0-0 draw at Yankee Stadium.

NYCFC ended a three-home-matches-in-eight-days stretch having earned only one out of a possible nine points, with the team’s current winless streak approaching the worst run of form in club history.

The draw with New England feels like two points dropped, with NYCFC left scoreless despite creating a number of glorious chances, doubling up on the Revs in expected goals (1.5 xG to 0.7 xG) while putting five shots on target.

That NYCFC didn’t score against a team fresh off conceding 11 goals in their previous four matches speaks to both Petrović’s greatness between the sticks, and the attacking futility that has defined most of NYCFC’s season to date.

Keaton Parks had the first great NYCFC scoring chance in the 13th minute, finding himself unmarked right in front of goal for a point-blank header. Parks put his effort wide of the frame, an omen of what was to come on the finishing front for NYCFC.

Another opportunity presented itself in the 22nd minute when NYCFC got out on the counter after a Luis Barraza save, with Richy Ledezma acrobatically playing Gabriel Pereira into space aplenty, only for New England’s star man Petrović to deny Pereira’s curling shot destined for the top corner.

Ledezma was next up, rattling the woodwork with a blistering effort from distance in the 34th minute. It was yet another first half at home that saw NYCFC be the more consistently dominant side yet still fail to enter halftime with a lead.

More of the same was to come in the second half. NYCFC’s best chance of the half belonged to Gabriel Pereira, who slipped behind New England’s back line and was found with a perfectly timed and weighted pass from Santiago Rodríguez in the 59th minute, but the Brazilian’s shot was again denied by an incredible save from Petrović.

The match’s final half hour was a mostly cagey, uneventful spell that most notably included Braian Cufré receiving a straight red card in the first minute of added time for what looked like a careless but less-than-red-worthy foul on New England defender DeJuan Jones. No one would find a winner, though the Revs did see a last-gasp chance thwarted when Gustavo Bou blocked his own teammate’s shot.

It was a disappointing result for NYCFC, though it was also a rare clean sheet—just the team’s second of the season, with the last coming in the 1-0 home opener win over Inter Miami, one of the two teams currently below NYCFC in the Eastern Conference table.

Game Stats
NYCFC: 17 shots, 5 on goal, 54.5% possession, 484 passes, 83.7% accuracy, 13 fouls
New England: 12 shots, 2 on goal, 45.5% possession, 395 passes, 81.3% accuracy, 17 fouls

Band-Aid back line

That NYCFC earned a second clean sheet of 2023 with a lineup heavy on central midfielders masquerading as defenders was a testament to some strong individual performances at the back. James Sands and Justin Haak in particular both excelled as part of the extremely makeshift NYCFC back line, filling in admirably for the injured Thiago Martins and the unexpectedly suspended Tayvon Gray.

Sands put in a commanding performance days after his testy postgame back-and-forth with a few supporters, setting match highs for duels won, passes completed, and tackles made. The center back triumvirate of Sands, Haak, and Chanot held up as well as anyone could have hoped, a shining bright spot coming on the heels of the two straight home defeats in which NYCFC twice conceded three goals.

While the reworked back five succeeded against New England, it won’t be possible to run it back when NYCFC next plays on the road at Real Salt Lake. Chanot will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation after picking up his fifth caution of the season against New England, and Cufré will also be suspended unless the red card he drew against the Revs is (unexpectedly) rescinded.

Makeshift back lines have become the norm for NYCFC due to a mix of injuries, suspensions, and a general lack of roster depth, and that’s set to continue at least in the near term. The player availability situation NYCFC is currently facing at fullback is startling to say the least, so any hopes of seeing the team deploy an undeniably first-choice defensive line need to be put on hold.

This defensive performance against New England was an important one, a rare show of stinginess during a stretch in which NYCFC has too regularly leaked goals.

Attack remains GP11 or bust

None of the NYCFC attacking players accomplished the primary goal of helping put the ball in the back of the net, but it also must be said that none of NYCFC’s attacking players are currently on the same level as Gabriel Pereira. Pereira was again the player making the most things happen when the ball was at his feet, and just days after he had a legit opening goal against Cincinnati inconceivably disallowed by a nightmare of a referee decision.

Djordje Petrović’s Man of the Match heroics kept Pereira off the scoresheet, but the bigger concern for NYCFC should be how reliant they’ve become on Pereira and his highly dangerous left-footed strikes.

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What was intended to be a balanced, multi-pronged attack that included forward threats like Talles Magno and Santi Rodríguez has increasingly looked like a one-man show. Talles Magno is struggling through a knee injury and has not played more than 28 minutes since the 1-1 draw in Orlando back on May 17. Santi has had his moments throughout the season, but has also produced a string of underwhelming performances to coincide with the team’s prolonged winless run. His last undeniably great performance came in the team’s last win, that 3-1 victory of FC Dallas way, way back on April 22.

Midfielders like Richy Ledezma and Keaton Parks similarly have shown flashes of promise in front of goal, but have combined to produce just one goal and three assists despite each player taking lots of touches in promising attacking positions.

The goal-scoring and creating burden has fallen too heavily on Gabi Pereira, and on days when NYCFC runs up against a quality in-form keeper like New England’s Petrović, they need more than just one reliable attacking player to consistently threaten for goals.

Things aren’t about to get easier

While a disastrous home stand is now mercifully in NYCFC’s rearview, the immediate future does not look much brighter for the Eastern Conference’s current 13th place club. Six of NYCFC’s final eight matches before the big MLS-wide break for the Leagues Cup will be on the road, where NYCFC remain winless through their first eight MLS matches.

Two West Coast trips are still to come in June, with Utah up next Saturday, followed not long after by a first return trip to Portland since lifting MLS Cup at Providence Park back in December 2021.

If NYCFC are to turn their season around and force fans to start burying their “Cushing/Lee Out” banners in the backs of their closets, they urgently need to find a way to start picking up results away from home. They’ll get plenty of chances to do so in the coming weeks, but numerous factors are still working against them.

NYCFC still are going to be facing serious injury and player availability issues, and they might lose one or more of their American players to a United States men’s national team call-up for the Gold Cup later this month.

While some of the excuses and extenuating circumstances effecting the team and its roster are legit, they won’t be enough to keep supporter anger at bay if the results don’t improve. Signs of fan unrest are already apparent, and while a draw against New England is no doubt better than a loss, it’s still not enough to restore any real sense of confidence around the direction this current NYCFC season is heading.

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New England, Emmanuel Boateng, yellow card, foul 43′
NYCFC, Maxime Chanot, yellow card, foul 81′
New England, Carles Gil, yellow card, time wasting 85′
NYCFC, Braian Cufré, red card, serious foul 90’+1′

Attendance: 22,203

Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Assistant Referees: Ryan Graves, Chris Elliott
Fourth Official: Filip Dujic
VAR: David Barrie
Assistant VAR: TJ Zablocki