How do you view a 5-0 win?
Usually, that scoreline inspires supreme confidence in one’s team, if not downright arrogance.
That’s one way you could look at NYCFC’s drubbing of Cincinnati FC last weekend.
New York City exploded in the second half for four goals, earning its first win of the season during its home opener at Yankee Stadium.
Save for a spectacular Sean Johnson double-save when the game was already out of reach, the visitors rarely threatened and the hosts were ruthless from set pieces, where all five goals originated. Exploiting the inefficiency of corners and free kicks – one of soccer’s underutilized tools – is a positive sign, and New York City always felt in control.
Now for a dose of reality.
NYCFC’s goals included an own goal, a direct free-kick, a massive deflection and a highly improbable shot (cross?) from Jesus Medina. The opponent has been one of MLS’ worst in recent years, and only a few good looks were actually created from open play.
How often will the chips fall that kindly?
Though it sounds weird to say after a 5-0 win, the team’s defense currently seems more of a sure bet than its offense. Much like DC United the week before, Cincinnati failed to create many good chances; NYCFC has allowed the fifth-least xG (1.7) in a very small sample size thus far.
Praising the team’s defense doesn’t need to be a pejorative. Johnson has started the season in fine form, and nearly all of last year’s back four (minus Ronald Matarrita) and midfield pivot returns. That spine – even with pedestrian chance creation – means NYCFC will be difficult to beat.
But for a club just two seasons removed from topping the East that fashions itself as an attractive attacking outfit, raising the microscope to the somewhat flat start is fair game. The set piece fortunes (probably) won’t continue at this rate either.
As things stand, this team’s ceiling is murkier than its floor.
Of course, New York City will be delighted by getting a win in its second game (it took them until the fifth last season) and gifting the fans such a scoreline after their first time in the Bronx stands for 577 days.
Still, beating a bad team – especially with the reliance on set pieces – doesn’t answer too many questions.
This team may well be legit, but we’ll have a much clearer idea after this weekend’s test vs. Philadelphia.
Red Bulls’ Struber must learn from selection mistake
After the Red Bulls signed left-back Andrew Gutman, I wrote that the move could bring more balance to the team’s attack. Last season, the team relied heavily on right-back Kyle Duncan for offense, and Gutman was brought in as a potential foil.
On Sunday, coach Gerhard Struber reverted to that very one-sidedness.
While Gutman started, scored and looked dangerous on the left, his counterpart Duncan was nowhere to be seen on the right from the first whistle.
Starting in his place was midfielder Florian Valot, who lacks much of Duncan’s pace and had never once started as a right wingback in his career (the Red Bulls started in a 3-5-2) before facing the Galaxy.
Valot failed to offer much of an outlet on the right and had the ball stolen from him prior to the Galaxy’s first goal. He was yanked off at halftime for Duncan, who produced a team-high four shot-creating actions in the next 45 minutes, according to FBref, en route to New York’s eventual 3-2 loss.
The substitution, which also dovetailed with Dru Yearwood coming on for Sean Nealis, sparked a switch to a back four and a far more encouraging second half performance.
It was also effectively an admission of guilt from Struber.
The Austrian will need time to settle on his best XI and implement his tactics, but merely putting players in positions to succeed will help in the short term. Starting Valot in an ill-fitting right wing-back role was not that.
Don’t expect Struber to err in that manner again vs. Chicago.
#Jury #NYCFC #blowout #win