NYCFC have claimed just one win in their opening three matches, but their performances should provide confidence.
Football can be a cruel sport. On many occasions throughout football’s history, strong performances and dominance have failed to produce victory and to prevent elimination from tournaments. Such instances remind the football world that at the end of the day, only goals claim victories and victories, success.
However, this mentality is rare during the opening weeks of the season. Performance, rather than outcome can boost a side’s confidence and even to a certain degree, provide a feel-good factor. The final score does little in the early stages of the season whereas the performance can either provide confidence or cast doubt over success throughout the remainder of the season.
New York City FC’s start to their third ever MLS season may have ended in defeat, but their display should offer a sense of comfort to both the team and its supporters. Though some struggles were obvious in their opener at Orlando, the flow of play implies far more than the score does.
Slow starts are far from positive, but in this instance, criticism of NYC is harsh. A strong start for the hosts in the opening match of a season is typical, and the first ever match in a new stadium can intensify this factor. NYCFC obviously have plenty of away fixtures, but the circumstances of their clash with Orlando were unique to this match and will not likely trouble the side as the season progresses.
A more serious concern would be their failure to break Orlando’s defense down. Their lack of clear goal scoring opportunities forced Bendik, Orlando City’s keeper, into few saves. NYC must improve in this area if they are to build off or even mirror last season’s success in the regular season.
The persistence of this struggle may require the addition of creative players in the center of the park. Andoni Iraola’s fantastic performances as a holding midfielder afforded Andrea Pirlo more license further up the field to yield many goal-scoring opportunities and to supplement NYC in the final third. Not to mention Frank Lampard’s supply of goals as well. It would not hurt for Patrick Viera to bear this in mind come July’s transfer window.
However, NYC’s dominance throughout the match is perhaps the most illuminating factor of their display. The ball was almost entirely in Orlando’s half of the pitch for the remainder of the first half and much of the second half. With nearly 70 percent possession of the ball and twice as many shots as their opponents, Patrick Viera’s side asserted complete superiority.
Their defeat was no product of NYC’s lack of quality. Similar performances will likely produce positive results throughout the season. Due to the timing of this defeat, Patrick Viera and his side can build off of this and use it as a platform for success.
It’s fair to say that they did just that in their 4-0 win over DC United the next weekend. The Yankee Stadium-based club found themselves up by three at halftime before Villa added another with his second goal of the game. They were dominant from start to finish.
Their struggle against the Montreal Impact should by no means reduce confidence among the players or supporters. The Impact are an excellent side, and though NYCFC failed to protect their halftime lead, they did well to stifle their opponent throughout the match and would have likely taken all three points had Maxi Morales converted a golden opportunity to double New York’s lead shortly before Montreal’s equalizer.
At the end of the season, the only victory produces success. That time, however, is far off. At the moment, the manner of the result, rather than the result itself should be the primary focus of clubs and their supporters. And in that regard, there is little to worry about so far for NYCFC.