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

Geoffrey Campbell

With a recent run of poor results, NYCFC only added to the pain by losing at home to the New England Revolution.

NYCFC needed to get their swagger back. With one win in their last five matches, and the supporter’s shield slipping away, the Bronx Blues were desperate for three points. And despite an entertaining brand of football and solid defending, it just didn’t happen.

New England Revolution came into the game winless in their last nine matches but someone didn’t tell their defense. Revolution parked the bus and defended as if their lives depended on it.

For NYCFC, 18-year old local New York product James Sands received his first start in the midfield. And with players like Maxime Chanot, Ebenezer Ofori, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Rodney Wallace out on international duty, Dome Torrent needed to adopt the next man up policy.

The match started with NYCFC in the driver’s seat. The midfield three and Maxi Moralez were adept at finding the creases within Revolutions’ defense. Ronald Matarrita sent David Villa on a beautiful run down the left-hand side. And with some crafty dribbling, he found a wide-open Ben Sweat. Unfortunately, Sweat shanked his shot.

One of the best chances from the first half came from newly signed Valentin Castellanos. “Taty” was on a clear breakaway but placed his shot right at keeper Brad Knighton. Ibeagha also came inches wide of the post to giving his side the lead off a looping corner kick from Matarrita.

In defense, Alex Callens and Ibeagha looked up to the task, stifling most of Revolutions’ attacks. Keeper Sean Johnson didn’t have much to do but almost saw forward Brion Wright score had it not been for the post.

At the half, NYFC had clear advantages in both shots and possession. The Cityzens ripped 11 shots had the ball for 63.5 percent of the time. They also edged out the Revolution in passing accuracy and tackles won.

The second half only cemented the fact that this was one of Matarrita’s best games of the season. He was aggressive and sharp with his passing, he could’ve easily had two assists.

The Revolutions’ defense held onto the mantra of bend but don’t break. They looked like Rocky Marciano after a ten round bout with Ivan Drago, but nevertheless, they didn’t give up the lead.

And in the 70th minute, they were rewarded, as a shot ricocheted off Johnson and Wright was there to clean up to put his team on the scoreboard. As Wright scored his first goal in MLS, the clouds descended and the air was taken out of the NYCFC supporters and their squad.

The news almost got worse as Johnson failed to cover up a low shot and the Revolution almost converted the rebound into a second goal, which would’ve most assuredly put the game out of reach.

In the end, it seemed that Revolution was just better at playing their game than NYCFC. They sat back, defended like hell and tried to create on the counter-attack.

Just before extra-time, a last gasp effort came when Anton Tinnerholm was brought down just outside of the 18-yard box. Moralez stood over the ball, sent a solid cross in, but New England’s defense remained a brick wall. It was an epitome of the night as NYCFC saw their home unbeaten streak snapped and their run of poor results continued.

During the postgame press conference, Torrent was very complimentary of young Sands and his performance. He called the academy star a “future number six” for his squad. Sands did impress and it looks like he will get another start in the near future.

However, Torrent also slightly bristled when asked about the team’s recent record. Torrent was quick to point out that his players played well and the result was not indicative of their effort and how they moved the ball.

And while he’s right, with six games left, the Bronx Blues are running out of time, and the supporters may not be satisfied with visually appealing football and poor results. Torrent must adapt and figure out ways to get wins and fast.

NYCFC will stay in New York as both Wayne Rooney and D.C. United come to town on Saturday. United have four wins in their last six matches and have benefitted from the experience and talent of Rooney.

NYCFC will be forced to put their sorrows on the backburner with the quick turnaround and the end of the season on the horizon.

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