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Early-season NYCFC struggles continue in lifeless St. Louis loss

Another disappointing, familiar road result as New York City remains winless after two games in 2024.

Thus far pointless and goalless in the new 24/7 Kit |

New York City FC remained on the road for its first-ever game against St. Louis City SC. Despite it being the first meeting between the two teams, NYCFC played like did in much of 2023 game: Sloppy, disjointed, lethargic.

St. Louis easily controlled the game for a 2-0 win, proving why they finished top of the Western Conference in 2023.

Nick Cushing decided to make some changes to his lineup. NYCFC switched to a 4-3-3 formation, with a midfield that featured James Sands, Keaton Parks and Andrés Perea. Santi Rodríguez started as the left-winger for the injured Talles Magno, Hannes Wolf was on the right, and Mounsef Bakrar led the line as the No 9.

New York started the game shaky, as St. Louis set the intensity with its high press style of play. St. Louis was able to open the scoring thanks to an impressive solo goal from Célio Pompeu, and continued the momentum in the second half. Samuel Adeniran put an end to the game with a goal in the 72nd minute, followed by James Sands receiving a straight red card after VAR review less than 10 minutes later.


NYCFC: 7 shots, 1 shot on target, 52.5% possession, 431 passes, 84% pass accuracy, 14 fouls 

St. Louis: 16 shots, 3 shots on target, 47.5% possession, 321 passes, 81.9% pass accuracy, 20 fouls

• St. Louis, Célio Pompeu, 34'
• St. Louis, Samuel Adeniran, 72'

Attendance: 22,423

First half woes

Going into the game, it was expected to be very tough for NYCFC, a team that only won one game on the road last season. St. Louis came out with most of the ball and all of the life, as New York looked lost and dysfunctional.

g+ GameFlow

NYCFC had their first scare of the night as Pompeu hit the left post. St. Louis would hit the woodwork once more in the first half, but this time from Aziel Jackson in the 32nd minute.

Minutes later, St. Louis opened the scoring through Pompeu, after he dribbled through New York's defense into the box and placed his shot past the outstretched hands of Matt Freese.

Yes, the goal was impressive, but the mistakes leading to the goal were frustrating. Bakrar was tackled off the ball, the rebound went to Sands, who was then dispossessed as the ball found the feet of Pompeu who went on to score.

In the 41st minute, NYCFC had a golden opportunity to score their first goal of the 2024 season and level the game. Parks found space on the right-hand side and crossed the ball to the edge of the box to an unmarked Kevin O'Toole, who headed the ball dangerously to the back post to Wolf, but his shot was saved by Roman Bürki, and New York trailed 1-0 at halftime.

Midfield struggles

Lining up with Sands, Parks and Perea in the midfield, there was a lot to be excited about. Instead, the exact opposite of that happened.

Parks continued his early-season struggles. He did complete 89 percent of his passes, but the 6-foot-4 midfielder only won 47% of his ground duels, none of his aerial duels, and was dispossessed twice. Parks only had one pass into the final third and struggled defending.

Perea, who had his first start of the season, completed three dribbles but only half of his long balls found a New York player. In a game that required playing the ball over the top due to high press, NYCFC's passes needed to be quick, crisp and accurate.

Sands was an important piece in New York's game plan, playing the No 6 role above the backline. Sands did have nine recoveries, two interceptions and two clearances, but was sent off in the 83rd minute for violent conduct. Sands only completed one of his two tackles, another night to forget for the Guy from Rye.

Home, sweet home?

After two ugly losses on the road, NYCFC will breathe a sigh of relief knowing it returns to the Big Apple for their next game.

Although New York has historically struggled against Portland (except for that day in December 2021), it remains undefeated in home openers since its inception. With several new signings and familiar faces back on the pitch at Yankee Soccer Stadium, NYCFC could return to the win column. Cushing's seat already seems hot enough, but if three points don't come soon, it will get even hotter.

• St. Louis, Anthony Markanich, yellow card, foul, 21'
• NYCFC, Andrés Perea, yellow card, foul, 28'
• St. Louis, Indiana Vassilev, yellow card, foul, 41'
• St. Louis, Tomas Totland, yellow card, foul, 45+3'
• NYCFC, James Sands, yellow card, foul, 52'
• St. Louis, Chris Durkin, yellow card, foul, 82'
• NYCFC, James Sands, red card, violent conduct, 83'
• NYCFC, Mitja Ilenič, yellow card, foul, 88'
• St. Louis, Tomas Ostrak, yellow card, foul, 90'

Replacement Officials
• Referee: Erick Lezama Pavon
• Assistant referees: Hayden Oscanao, Fermin Sanchez
• Fourth official: Jorge Luna
• VAR: Sandro Ricci
• Assistant VAR: N/A

St. Louis City 2 - 0 NYCFC | Official Highlights