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Set pieces are key for NYCFC’s playoff run

New York City’s return to form owes much to goals scored from set pieces.

Who will score goals for New York City FC is a question that has hung over the club ever since Taty Castellanos left for Girona FC. The number of goals the team has scored has been way down since his departure, but that’s not the only trend that’s emerged in recent weeks: NYCFC now score more often from set pieces. 

For the sake of this article, set pieces are free kicks, corner kicks, and throw-ins. Yes, penalties are technically set pieces, but we’ll put goals scored from the spot in their own category for reasons that will become apparent.

Once you remove penalties from the equation, it’s staggering to see how much New York City now rely on set pieces to get on the scoreboard. In the 17 games when Taty was on the field, NYCFC scored 36 goals but only three from set pieces; in the 17 games when NYCFC were without Taty, the team scored just 21 goals, but six of those are from set pieces. To put it another way, only 8.3% of NYCFC’s goals were from set pieces when Taty played, but without him that figure leaps to 29%. 

NYCFC 2022 Goals Scored by Type, MLS League Games

PeriodGoals ScoredFrom Open PlayFrom Set PiecesFrom Penalties
With Taty Castellanos362736
Without Taty Castellanos 211461

Looking at a smaller sample size, fully 37.5% of NYC’s goals have come from set pieces since the season turned around with the Campeones Cup win over Atlas FC. Since things have gotten better and faith has been restored in this team, the reliance on set pieces has only grown. 

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