To call NYCFC’s loss to Columbus disappointing is an understatement. Embarrassing may be more accurate.
With a chance to get into the playoff chase, NYCFC once again fell flat at home, losing 2-1 to the Columbus Crew. While the loss hurts, the way the team lost the game is the main story, forcing head coach Jason Kreis to (finally) call his team out.
“I couldn’t be more disappointed,” he said in his delayed post-game presser. “It’s devastating for us to lose that game.
“I think there still has to be a glimmer of hope. But, at the moment it’s tough to see it. We need to see who care and who wants to be here. I know the whole coaching staff does; I’m not sure every players does.”
They did neither – and because they did neither, they were deservedly called out by Kreis and everyone else that’s about to do the same.
“We needed to win this game,” Andoni Iraola said afterwards. “There was a moment when Columbus had chances and so did we, but they seized them first and took the win home.”
With Montreal’s loss to Toronto, NYCFC still has a chance to overtake the Impact for the sixth and final playoff spot in what’s now a five-team race in the East.
(Orlando City and Chicago were tied at time of press, however Orlando would take the sixth spot with a draw or a win over the Fire.)
All NYCFC had to do to give themselves a chance at key points in their playoff chase was to not allow a goal in the first 10 minutes of the game and the last 10 minutes of the game. They had to start strong on both sides of the ball and finish sharp defensively in the final 10 minutes to give themselves a chance.
Federico Higuain got past Andrea Pirlo at the far post on a corner kick in the 10th minute, heading the ball past goalkeeper Josh Saunders, putting Columbus up 1-0 early. Andrew Jacobson’s rocket of a shot in the 29th minute evened the game at one goal apiece.
Mix Diskerud nearly put NYCFC up 2-1 on what would’ve been a highlight-reel bicycle kick in front of Columbus’ net just before halftime, however the ball went just over the crossbar.
The Blues had their chances to put themselves up 2-1 early in the second half, however they could not capitalize on any of those chances. Columbus continued to put pressure on goalkeeper Josh Saunders, eventually getting the ball in the back of the net on Justin Meram’s go-ahead shot in the 83rd minute.
Frank Lampard made his first appearance since early August at Red Bull Arena, playing 60 minutes before being replaced by Kwadwo Poku. Neither were really able to get anything going on Saturday.
Lampard missed the last three weeks with a quad strain. Overall, he’s missed six games since his originally scheduled July 12 debut. He’s played a total of 166 minutes in just three appearances for the Blues.
“I felt all right,” Lampard mentioned. “I can’t be at my best. I’ve only trained for days, rather than weeks.
“[Playing 60 minutes] was the max [I could do]”. I’ve had problems with injuries here, muscle injuries. I’ve been trying to get back, and it’s [been] difficult. When you’re injured there’s nothing you can do. Injuries are a part of football and this one was very badly timed for me. My desire now is to get a lot of training in the next 10 days and be ready for Dallas.”
With seven games left and a week off, NYCFC has a chance to breathe before going on what could be a last-gasp at a playoff push. Despite being called out by their head coach, the players still believe that they can achieve what’s currently impossible.
“I have full faith that we can put a string of results together,” defender Chris Wingert said. “Honestly, it’s a bit out of our hands since there’s a few teams with some games in hand, but all we can control is ourselves and that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
“It’s seven important games that we have to play, but we have to take them one at a tie, we need to think of them one at a time,” Andrea Pirlo said through a translator. “They’re all hard, but I’m sure that if we all think of winning one at a time, then you do one and you think of the next. That’s the way to proceed.”
The Blues have 10 days to figure out how they want to go about the next two months, the biggest two months of their season.
It’s safe to wonder if they can even handle that at this point.
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