New York City FC
(Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Geoffrey Campbell

NYCFC’s road woes continue as they fall to the Columbus Crew, now sit third in MLS standings.

Fans just don’t know what to expect from NYCFC. After grabbing a thrilling point against the Red Bulls despite being down two players, you just thought that fight and spirit would carry onto the next game. Well, it didn’t.

Dome Torrent decided to include Tommy McNamara in a midfield three as part of his regular four-three-three formation. Ronald Matarrita, fresh off a suspension, got the start at left back.

Fans will remember the last time that NYCFC and Crew played each other, it was the Federico Higuain show. This time around, midfielder Justin Meram was the man who gave the Bronx Blues’ defense all sorts of fits.

Between Meram, Higuain, Gyasi Zardes, Harrison Afful, and Pedro Santos, NYCFC were left to perform a lot of emergency defending. They seemed to be caught off guard and were forced to foul and commit many sliding tackles in dangerous positions.

If the defense was on its backheels the offense wasn’t much better. For the Cityzens, David Villa and Maxi Moralez were the only two players who seemed to have an intent on scoring goals. NYCFC were able to string passes together and move the ball upfield, but truth be told, they never appeared a serious threat to Crew’s defense, with one exception.

Rodney Wallace, who started in attack for NYCFC, did little to nothing for his side. To say that Wallace has been a disappointment this season would be an understatement. And despite his willingness to run back on defense, he offered no support to the offense and was subbed off the field at half-time.

Adding to Wallace’s underwhelming play, All-Star Alex Ring seemed like he committed more fouls than passes during this match. It’s been several matches since we’ve seen the Finnish international in good form and his team certainly could’ve used it.

The first half ended in a draw with NYCFC edging Crew out in possession with 51.8 percent. However, Crew peppered City’s defense with 10 shots to NYCFC’s four. Meram proved to be the closest to breaking the deadlock if not for an offsides call towards the end of the half.

In the second half, Crew continued to put holes in City’s defense as they bombed down the flanks and mounted the pressure on the back line. But in a surprising turn of events, NYCFC were the first side on the score sheet.

Anton Tinnerholm made a run towards goal, and just as he lost control of the ball, Ismael Tajouri Shrade came to the rescue and slotted home the game’s first goal in the 53rd minute.

However, the lead didn’t last, as Harrison Afful opened the scoring for Crew in the 61st minute. Off a rebound from his own shot, City’s defense failed to close down Afful, and he latched on to the ball and thumped a strike past the diving Sean Johnson.

And the Crew weren’t done. Two minutes later Meram headed home the game-winning goal off a set piece. A closer look at the replay revealed that the ball may have touched Meram’s hand, but the referee allowed it and chose not to implement VAR.

Torrent brought on Valentin Castellanos and Jonathan Lewis in the second half but to no avail. Lewis thought he had tied the game but was caught offsides by the referee.

NYCFC will feel even more dejected after they’ve found out that Redbulls lost to the Montreal Impact. City’s loss to Crew negated the perfect opportunity to climb up in the standings. Currently, the Bronx Blues sit at third in MLS, six points behind Atlanta FC and seven behind Redbulls.

Luckily, the Cityzens will return home for two games against the New England Revolution and D.C. United on September 5th and the 8th respectively. Wayne Rooney will make his first trip to Yankee stadium in front of what is sure to be a big crowd.

An interesting subplot since Torrent’s arrival has been his inability to find his best 11 going forward. He’s plugged in different players in defense and in midfield with mixed results. While he hasn’t had a lot of time on the job, Torrent’s ability to find a winning solution will have a massive impact on NYCFC’s playoff run.

With players like Maxime Chanot, Wallace, Ebenezer Ofori, and Tajouri-Shradi set for international call-ups, Torrent will find it even more difficult to find a consistent line-up for his side. However, one thing is for certain, whether they like it or not, fans will continue to strap in for the roller-coaster ride that his NYCFC football.

Final Stats

Follow on TWITTER