Despite being “serious” about their U.S. Open Cup match against the NASL’s New York Cosmos, NYCFC plays their B-team in an embarrassing loss.New York City head coach Patrick Vieira said he was serious about NYCFC’s U.S. Open Cup match against the New York Cosmos Wednesday night at Fordham University in the Bronx.
His lineup, and the way the team looked throughout, said otherwise.
The Cosmos’ Danny Szetela headed a ball past Blues’ goalkeeper Eirik Johansen in the 88th minute to give NYCFC their second-straight one-and-done in the U.S. Open Cup in as many years, handing them a 1-0 loss.
The loss extends NYCFC’s winless streak vs. other “New York” teams to six matches. Whether the losses to the Cosmos or the 7-0 demolition by the Red Bulls are the worse are still up for debate.
“You can lose any kind of game,” Vieira said afterwards, “you can lose against the Red Bulls, you can lose against the Cosmos, you can lose against Philadelphia, you can lose against any team in football. I think if you play from the way we perform, you will lose against any team.”
NYCFC looked completely disinterested throughout the 90 minutes. The attacking front of Kwadwo Poku, Patrick Mullins and Khiry Shelton had very, very few moments of brilliance or hope, however the Blues were trigger shy inside the Cosmos’ 18-yard box throughout the night.
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Mullins had a chance in the second half, beating Cosmos’ keeper Jimmy Maurer on a long ball, however he couldn’t control the ball to sneak it over the line and the ball was cleared by Hunter Freeman in the 73rd minute.
That was NYCFC’s lone legitimate chance at a goal. Diego Martinez hit a left-footed rocket from distance in the 54th minute, however it was right to Maurer in the net who routinely parried it away.
“I’m not happy about it at all. I take it personally,” Mullins mentioned. “All of the guys take it personally but at the end of the day, it’s just very disappointing right now.
“Taking another look at it, I think it was a tough angle at the end-line and I saw Poku and I was trying to get my left foot on the ball to get it to him, but credit to the defender, he made a nice tackle and those are just the margins of the night.
“They finished their chance and we didn’t, so here we are.”
Once again, here is NYCFC, out after another one-and-done in U.S. Open Cup play where they, again, talked about how serious this tournament is, while playing mostly backups and reserves.
The designated-player (and marketing) trio of David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo were all in street clothes on a bench far from the bench on the night, while Shannon Gomez made his first career start for NYCFC. Johansen made his first start of the season in the net for the Blues – his first and only start last year came in the same Open Cup match against the same team last year. Jefferson Mena also earned a rare start tonight as well, as did Poku, Mullins, and Mehdi Ballouchy.
For what it’s worth, Vieira was limited in his selection due to the Open Cup rule that limits the number of internationals in his match day squad to just five.
The only regular starters to play tonight were Mix Diskerud, Mikey Lopez and Khiry Shelton. Defender Jason Hernandez came into the game in the 87th minute and Jack Harrison, who surprisingly didn’t get a start, came into the game in the 90th minute after the Cosmos’ scored.
“The hand was tied but at the end you just have to focus game after game,” Vieira explained. “I’m a little disappointed, yes, because I gave some players a chance to perform, to show me that they deserved to play more and they didn’t show it today. And that’s why I’m quite really frustrated, because the trust I had in them, they didn’t have it back.”
“It’s difficult for me to accept. My focus was on the game, and now that the game is over we can think about Philadelphia.”
It’ll be easy to expect Vieira to be under fire for the lineup he put out onto the pitch, especially after his comments prior to the tournament.
“We enter a competition because we want to win,” he said in the days leading up to the Open Cup match. “We’re not the only team who wants to win that competition. We want to do well but what is important is our focus, concentration and not taking this game for granted.”
To put NYCFC’s loss in perspective, the Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire, FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution, Philadelphia, Columbus, L.A. Galaxy and Orlando City each won their Open Cup matches against a lower-tier team. The Portland Timbers beat the San Jose Earthquakes in an all-MLS Open Cup round and D.C. was the only other side to lose to a lower-tier club, falling to Ft. Lauderdale 4-3 in penalty kicks. Dallas and Chicago won on penalties in their respective matches.
NYCFC will be forced to rebound on a quick turnaround with a 1 p.m. game on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union at Yankee Stadium. The DP’s are expected to play along with right back Ronald Matarrita who just returned from international duty with Costa Rica on Tuesday.
NYCFC is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference table (4-5-6; 18 points), while the Union are in first (6-3-5; 23 points). However, a majority of teams have games in-hand, so those standing are expected to change over the weekend.
NYCFC has survived above the red line for a while now, yet if Wednesday night was a sign of anything, that can be expected to change very soon.