The results aren’t painting a pretty picture for New York City FC ahead of the biggest match in franchise history.
NYCFC haven’t won since the middle of March. They’ve lost five of their last seven, with measly draws picked up against Colorado and Philadelphia. During that stretch, the team has scored a measly three goals. They’ve led for a total of thirty minutes.
The worry for NYCFC here is that with all of the corporate misdirection and broken promises of the last year and a half, if the team keeps losing, interest might fade, and things might get ugly.
Manager Jason Kreis, NYCFC’s biggest asset, has spoken over the last week about how the process of turning this team into a winner has been much harder than he expected.
Kreis doesn’t have much experience with losing. He missed the playoffs in his first year as a head coach, and then qualified without a hitch for the next six years – making two MLS Cups in the process.
Kreis has even less experience with the kind of slide his new team is currently trying to endure. Kreis’ Real Salt Lake teams were extremely consistent, as much in process and thought than results.
The truth is that NYCFC’s slow start was entirely foreseeable, and what ails the team on the field entirely curable. Kreis made the right call in jumping ship from a stable, comfortable, successful situation when he did – NYCFC is in a better position today than Salt Lake is with new manager Jeff Cassar.
New York City is playing good football. In the last few weeks, they’ve figured out their high press, and, especially when both Ned Gravaboy and Mix Diskerud are in the lineup, are moving the ball with confidence and assuredness.
If possession is the hallmark of a Kreis team, progress is clear. New York easily out-possessed and dictated games against both Portland and Seattle, the last two matches that the team has played with eleven men.
NYCFC doesn’t have the problem that plagues the vast majority of MLS’ non-playoff teams: The have a good idea of what they’re trying to do each time they take the field. They know how they want to play.
Problem is, NYCFC is bringing slingshots to machete fights. Right now, New York is one of the least talented teams in MLS.
All the good coaching in the world can’t win games without good players to back it up. NYCFC’s current lineup is mostly made of players who couldn’t get on the field in MLS last year glued together with rookies and aged imports.
Any team that rates Jed Brovsky, Chris Wingert, Mehdi Ballouchy, and Josh Saunders as key starters is going to struggle. Obviously.
It hasn’t helped that David Villa has been hurt. NYCFC’s buildup play is solid, their finishing in Villa’s absence, horrendous. It also hasn’t helped that a franchise that promised three designated players only has one on hand for the first half of the season, and only two on the books at all.