By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith
Sunday, April 22: 3-0 Loss
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) April 23, 2018
We knew that the unbeaten streak couldn’t last forever. I mean I used to believe in unicorns, so maybe I did think there was a chance that New York City Football Club could be undefeated this year if they kept up the level of play. Then the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day happened. Sunday we faced the Portland Timbers at Portland and boy, was it a hot mess.
The pace of the game was in stark contrast to the Atlanta United match last week with it being much slower and with NYCFC’s touches seeming to lack urgency. Although we maintained a great deal of the possession, Portland capitalized quickly and deftly on our mistakes and on counter attacks.
The spiral started with a terrible miscommunication between goalkeeper Sean Johnson and defender Alexander Callens on a shot that was savable had Johnson claimed it. We seemed to possess, possess, possess in the middle third then lose momentum and the Timbers would patiently wait for a missed touch or missed target then jump in. Over and over Portland would dish the ball to wide open Sebastian Blanco on the left of the goal where he scored once and nearly scored a few other times.
Defenders seemed stunned by changes in possession and couldn’t get back in time to help in meaningful ways, except for Alexander Ring who cleared away a few goal scoring opportunities. Every counter-attack was deadly and Portland earned every goal they scored or nearly scored. We could not build our attacks to anything truly threatening.
David Villa was almost invisible and Jesus Medina was sorely missed on the right side, on the bench for most of the game. Upon conclusion of the first half, head coach Patrick Vieira was visibly unhappy and said that NYCFC’s play lacked “aggressivity” and that the team needed “quicker ball movement”.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) April 22, 2018
It would be completely unfair to not point out how well the Timbers played. The formation 4-4-1-1 on paper looked a bit wonky but it was a brilliant tactic of Portland coach Gio Savarese to congest the field and cut down on New York’s effective ball movement and momentum building. Without urgency and quick movement, we couldn’t play our game. Portland effectively shut down our weapons across the board then waited patiently for opportune moments to strike decisively.
All the best athletes and teams have moments of failure and soul-searching. Coach Vieira talks about the importance of the team’s humility especially in how they look at opponents. Judith Viorst’s “Alexander…” book is all about cause and effect. May the effect of this loss be a positive continuation of the evolution of New York City Football Club.
Also, may they never wear those Adidas Parley jerseys again. They look sharp but man, are they cursed!
#adidasParley courtesy: @NYCFC
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