NYCFC Go Down Swinging


New York City FC suffered a loss at home to Columbus Crew Friday night, snapping a five-game winning streak, in a wide open game that had a bit of everything. The loss could be very significant in the race for who is top of the East in Major League Soccer.

From the start, Columbus showed why they won The Cup last year, outplaying New York City for most of the first half with quick passes and possession based soccer. New York City were missing crucial pieces along their backline and, were it not for some big saves by Matt Freese, could have very easily gone behind early.

While NYCFC were creating some chances of their own, they were continually tested on the other end by Columbus. In the 39th minute that pressure proved to much for Mitja Ilenic who was beat for pace along the back line and committed a rash foul and denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. The referee issued a straight red card and things went from difficult to nearly impossible for NYCFC.

Jun 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Columbus Crew forward Christian Ramirez (17) battles New York City FC defender Mitja Ilenic (35) for the ball in the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Right before half, though, NYCFC seemed the better team. The sending off seemed to give them a sense on urgency lacking in the first forty minutes and they struck of a quick counter. Alonso Martinez connected with Agustin Ojeda who made a deft faint and found space for a rocket of a shot putting NYCFC ahead.

Jun 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte (28) is unable to make a save in the first half against the New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Holding the lead for the entire second half with only ten men was always going to be a big task and New York City caved just four minutes in when Christian Ramerez leveled the score. Mohamed Farsi struck again just five minutes later of a rebound from a Freese save and NYCFC looked stunned. Maxi Moralez was introduced in the fifty sixth minute and seemed to inject new life in the squad. Just as in the wanning minutes of the first half, NYCFC rallied and looked the better team even with ten men.

VAR played a part, however, in dashing hopes again. Against the run of play, the VAR official stopped the game and awarded a penalty to Columbus, saying Hannes Wolf had committed a foul in the box a few minutes before. The call stopped the game for a considerable time as the referee looked again and again at taped footage trying to find something “clear and obvious.” To this reporter’s eyes it seemed that Wolf may have fouled Farsi, but Farsi might have also been making a meal of that as well. Nothing seemed worth stopping the game and going back for a foul that was not called in the first place, but reporters are not reffs and the foul was given. Cucho Hernandez scored the PK and Columbus was a head by 3-1.

New York was not done yet, however, Maxi Moralez send a wonderful forty yard pass to Santi Rodriguez and again, NYCFC, scored off a quick counter and put the game back within reach.

Jun 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York City FC midfielder Santiago Rodriguez (10) scores passed Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte (28) in the second half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In the final minutes of the second half and in the massive stoppage time awarded because so much time was taken for the VAR review, NYCFC looked the better squad and it was hard to tell which team was playing with ten men. In the end 3 goals was too much to ask for and NYCFC went down valiantly pushing for a result at home.

“What you saw tonight was probably two of the best teams in MLS going at each other [and it was a]top level game. If we are going to be the best league in the world, that was [a]top level [game]. [It] reminded me of two real heavyweights going at each other. We were trying to tweak it and get the fix and then the red card moment is one of those moments that just flip the game on its head.” Head Coach, Nick Cushing said after the match.

Speaking about what was said at half, Matt Freese added, “[It was] just preaching [to]stick together [and]ride this one out. We knew it was going to be a fight. It was probably going to be an ugly one and [we are]frustrated with the fact that it didn’t turn out, but also definitely proud of the way that the guys fought down a man against a good team, [which]is never easy, and pulling two goals back is impressive.”
Indeed it was Impressive. Even in the loss, NYCFC looked far more centered and connected than they did in any of the matches at the start of the season. Their ten men dictated the game for a large chunk of the time and pushed Columbus to the limit. For now, they must regroup and look ahead to a long road trip to face LAFC on Wednesday.


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