Flushing, NY- A step in the right direction for NYCFC? ‘The Boys in Blue’ returned to Citi Field Wednesday evening with 14,238 fans in attendance to catch Cincinnati FC face-off against the defending MLS Cup champions. Feeling the adversity lurking in, NYCFC entered the match 1-4-0 in their last five with only five goals scored in that span.
“I’m more than confident that moving forward we have what it takes to get back to our fans’ expectations and our own expectations,” said New York City Football Club interim head coach Nick Cushing leading up to Wednesday’s match. “We share the same desire; we share the same frustration; we just want the game to (start) now.”
Whether it be the array of injuries or from the key departure of Valentín Castellanos to Girona FC in Spain this past July, NYCFC has consistently struggled converting in scoring opportunities. Matter of fact, the last match with three or more goals scored by ‘The Boys in Blue’ was on July 9th against the New England Revolution (Result: 4-2 NYCFC win at Yankee Stadium). But with that being said, Wednesday evening proved to be a step in the right direction.
To begin, NYCFC found themselves in a 1-0 deficit, having to claw back due to an own goal by Thiago Martins in the 22nd minute. From there on out, the willingness on defense, time of possession and offensive accuracy seemed to kick into gear at top notch quality.
“We have to get back to it and ultimately we have to put the ball in the other net,” said Cushing about the own goal. “We have each other’s backs and we came back after plenty of chances too.”
After a contingency of shots on goal, Gabriel Pereira converted a breathtaking header to even up the score at one a piece. In the 41st minute, with an incredible outlet pass coming from Tayvon Gray for the assist, Pereira recorded his seventh goal of the season. NYCFC finished the first half tied at 1-1, while compiling 17 shots on edge along with eight on target.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure. I think our goal is to make the playoffs, and get back to winning ways, said Gray, who recorded his second assist of the year. “That’s about it; like I said, we’re happy with the point. Could be something good.”
As NYCFC completed an impressive 83.2% pass accuracy, the winning ways appeared, but in brief glimpses. Despite playing a man down due to a red card given to Martins in the 76th minute, NYCFC held off Cincinnati’s aggressive offense.
In regards to the red card on Martins, Cushing elaborated, “Mistakes happen in the game. He is such a committed guy for our team, and he’s been an incredible addition to this team in his ability, but also his leadership and the guy that he is.”
NYCFC controlled 65.3% of possession, compared to Cincys 34.7% and finished with 22 shots on goal versus only four. Perhaps a step in the proper direction? ‘The Boys in Blue’ were able to finish Wednesday’s match with a 1-1 draw, earning a point in the Eastern Conference Standings. Nonetheless, NYCFC is looking ahead.
“Though the result did not go our way, the effort is there,” midfielder Maxi Moralez said. “Even though we have been on a bad run of form, we are still in a good position. Our goal is to reach the playoffs by having a good final four matches.”
In addition, NYCFC currently ranks fourth across the Eastern Conference Standings with 46 points and a 13-9-8 record. With the MLS playoffs beginning October 15th, ‘The Boys in Blue’ are prepared for what’s ahead. “We’re in a moment where we’re honest, we’re humble and we’ll continue to look ourselves in the mirror, ” said Cushing.
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Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
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