NYCFC’s 2-2 draw to Toronto FC could have been prevented, if the backline could’ve picked up better.
By Jeff Weisinger
Although the season is just two games young, there’s almost no question that New York City FC’s attacking front is far improved from last year, when they couldn’t create nor find the back of the net.
The club defensively, however, is still a different story.
NYCFC’s 2-2 draw Sunday night to Toronto FC saw the Blues backline play better than they did against Chicago a week ago, however reigning MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco and the Toronto attacking front still managed to claw back from a two-goal deficit.
However, head coach Patrick Vieira isn’t down about the progress of his club.
“With the way they work, they will get better and better, stronger and as a team I think we were better today,” he said in his press conference afterwards.
NYCFC created and missed on a few chances midway through the first half until Tommy McNamara was pushed down inside the box by Toronto’s Marco Delgado, setting up David Villa’s penalty kick in the 24th minute, his first of the season. Villa struck again just four minutes later as he won the fight for the ball inside Toronto’s six yard box, putting NYCFC up 2-0.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) March 13, 2016
New York City had chances for a third goal early in the second half, however Khiry Shelton and Mix Diskerud couldn’t finish inside of Toronto’s 18.
The Blues held Toronto scoreless for almost all of the first half until Damien Perquis knocked in a goal late off of a free kick by Giovinco in first half stoppage time to cut the Blues lead to 2-1 at the half. Toronto tied the game in the 76th minute on a shot to the far post by Giovinco, tying the match at two goals apiece.
Despite giving up the two goal lead, NYCFC had their chances to score a go-ahead goal late, however couldn’t find the back of the net.
The 3-4-3 formation that Vieira experimented with in the preseason — mainly in their preseason loss to FC Cincinnati — wasn’t necessarily a failure, but also wasn’t a complete success. Going up against a speedy scorer like Giovinco with just three men in the backline — Ronald Matarrita, Jason Hernandez and Frederic Brillant — and two defensive mids — Andrea Pirlo and Frederico Bravo — was a risk, especially with Pirlo’s limitations. However the Blues, mostly, made it work in the defensive half of the pitch, but more importantly having an aggressive attack that, to this point, has scored six goals in the first two matches.
“We understand each other out there on the field,” Matarrita said after Sunday’s draw. “We hope to have a more positive outcome Friday against Orlando.”
“The 3-4-3 is something we’ve been working on since the preseason,” Tony Taylor explained, “we feel comfortable in it, especially defensively.
“We’re going to continue building off of this game today.”
Pirlo played what could’ve been his hardest played game of his current time at NYCFC, slide tackling in the midfield and jumping for potential headers, both of which he didn’t do last year.
Brillant, who was trying to make up for his nightmare debut last week in Chicago, almost gave NYCFC a 3-1 lead midway through the second half, but looked much more comfortable Sunday night in the defensive third. He was, however, beat by Giovinco on the game-tying goal, unable to get a foot on the shot that beat goalkeeper Josh Saunders to the far post.
Although the Blues remain undefeated against Toronto in their young history — moving to 2-0-2 against them — one can only wonder if this club can fully contain any sort of strong attack. NYCFC has given up five goals in their first two games, a total much faster than they did last year where they allowed just one goal after the first three games. For the most part, they’ve contained some serious attackers in their first two games in Chicago’s David Accam and, tonight, Toronto’s Giovinco, and will face another potentially dangerous side in an Orlando City team that features Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin, Kaka, Carlos Rivas and newcomer Antonio Nocerino.