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NYCFC fall flat in 2-0 road loss to LA Galaxy

New York City FC suffered their second straight defeat in a night to forget on the West Coast.

It wasn't Santi's night | © Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC's trip to the West Coast ended on a bitter note Wednesday night after losing 2-0 to LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. For the first time since March, NYCFC suffered their second straight defeat, but remain fourth in the Eastern Conference.

NYCFC lacked their usual intensity and effectiveness on the ball, only putting four shots on target with 50 percent possession. Malachi Jones was a bright spot, though, creating one chance and taking six touches in LA's box. Talles Magno, who returned from injury on May 5, traveled with the team but wasn't in the matchday squad.

The tone for the match was set after a mistake from James Sands allowed a well-worked counter-attack goal from LA. The Galaxy's attacking trio of Gabriel Pec, Diego Fagúndez, and Dejan Joveljić gave New York City's backline trouble all night long. And LA goalkeeper John McCarthy made four saves, shutting out NYCFC for the first time since the 0-2 loss to Colorado in early May.


New York City: 14 shots, 4 shots on target, 50% possession, 468 passes, 90% pass accuracy, 8 fouls, 3 saves

LA Galaxy: 11 shots, 5 shots on target, 49% possession, 524 passes, 92% pass accuracy, 9 fouls, 4 saves

• LA Galaxy, Dejan Joveljić, 41'
• LA Galaxy, Diego Fagúndez, 49'

Attendance: 20,043

Poor first half

Neither side played particularly well in the first 45 minutes, but LA took the lead right before the break off a New York City turnover.

New York City misplaced several passes in the midfield, but Sands gifted the home side the lead as he played a pass straight to Pec. Thiago Martins tackled the ball away, but the rebound fell to Joveljić, who tapped the ball into the open net for his 11th goal of the season.

The error that led to the goal was Sands's third of the season — he also made similar mistakes in the losses to St. Louis and Colorado. The giveaway summarized NYCFC's performance in the first half: Sloppy, unfocused, and dull. LA had 58% possession and five shots, while New York City also had five shots but none on target.

Hannes Wolf had NYCFC's best chance of the first half. Mounsef Bakrar played a brilliant pass out wide to the open Wolf, but the Austrian hesitated to shoot and was quickly closed down, putting his eventual shot wide.

Later efforts from Kevin O'Toole and Santiago Rodríguez were close but went wide of McCarthy's goal. LA also created some chances of their own, with Pec and Joveljić putting their efforts wide.

Courtesy g+ GameFlow

LA counterattacks effectively

NYCFC set up with their core back-four against LA: Tayvon Gray, Martins, Birk Risa, and O'Toole. But the first-choice backline struggled to defend LA's counterattack, which threatened New York City all night long.

NYCFC tried to press LA, attempting to force turnovers and win the ball back quickly. This tactical move looked promising at moments, but in the end it did not go to plan and ended up hurting New York City later. To begin the second half, LA scored their second goal off a fast counterattack that was perfectly executed by only three passes.

Pec was picked out in space due to O'Toole pressing up the pitch. Pec got past Andrés Perea and Strahinja Tanasijević with ease, playing a pass to Joveljić. Once again, Joveljić had time to put his head up and play a pass to Fagúndez, who blasted his effort into the top right corner of the net. Because NYCFC was so focused on defending Pec and Joveljić, Fagúndez was able to make an unmarked late run to the edge of the box.

LA continued their highly threatening counterattacks for the remainder of the game, with Pec having two great chances to find the back of the net. His first effort rattled off the post, and the second forced Matt Freese into a low, diving save.

Up against one of the best offenses in MLS, New York City looked disorganized, lost, and tired throughout the match.

Where’s Magno?
The 21-year-old Designated Player has been an unused sub since returning from injury at the start of May. We look at why Talles Magno is on the bench — and why nobody seems to mind.

Nashville up next

NYCFC have another road game on Saturday against Nashville SC, who found a way to win last night in a 1-2 come-from-behind victory against Toronto.

Nashville have struggled this season but still poses dangerous players such as Hany Mukhtar and Sam Surridge. After the game, Martins spoke about the upcoming road game.

Martins is correct, New York City will need to keep their head up high and be prepared for Nashville. Losing three straight games will not look good, especially after going on a five-game winning streak in May. NYCFC and Nick Cushing will be looking to put this LA game behind them and return to good form against Nashville on Saturday.

• LA Galaxy, Jalen Neal, yellow card, foul 19′
• LA Galaxy, Julián Aude, yellow card, poor sportsmanship 29'
• NYCFC, Santiago Rodríguez, yellow card, foul 31'
• NYCFC, Hannes Wolf, yellow card, foul 45+1'
• LA Galaxy, Marco Delgado, yellow card, foul 62'

• Referee: Rubiel Vazquez
• Assistant referees: Corey Rockwell, Matthew Nelson
• Fourth official: Brandon Stevis
• VAR: Younes Marrakchi
• Assistant VAR: TJ Zablocki