(Andrea Pirlo – Photo by Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire)
New York City Football Club lost to Orlando City 1-0 at Yankee Stadium, despite having many top-quality chances off of free kicks.
NYC FC almost cashed in early, as Orlando City goalie Joe Bendik slipped on the sod put where the infield dirt usually is, and the ball got to Tommy McNamara in the corner, and he got off a great shot that was steered aside by an Orlando defender.
After the letdown of letting that golden chip slip away, NYC was slow to get back, and Cyle Larin scored in the seventh minute to make it 1-0 Orlando.
NYC FC proceeded to dominate play the rest of the first half, with 62 percent possession. Their best chances came on an Andrea Pirlo free kick in the 16th minute, and Tony Taylor with a big chance that went over the crossbar in the 19th minute. Pirlo took seven corner kicks in the first half.
NYC FC continued to pour it on in the second half, as they had 71 percent possession and had five more corner kicks.
One thing that was clear about Pirlo’s corners toward the end of the match was how high in the air they stayed, making it easy for Orlando defenders to clear them away. Ideally, the ball is supposed to curve downward on the arc from a corner kick.
NYC FC’s best chance came in the 73rd minute, Steven Mendoza hit one off the right post.
Orlando City took two yellow cards late. In the 90th minute, Christian Higuita took down an NYC FC player just outside the top of the box. Pirlo took the free kick and fired it over the bar.
In the 93rd minute, Seb Hines took down Patrick Mullins just outside the box on the left side. Pirlo took the free kick, and passed it to the center of the box, and Ronald Matarrita fired it over the crossbar, missing by inches.
There were four minutes of extra time, but when NYC FC regained control of possession after an Orlando City rush at 94:05, the referees gave them one last chance to go up the field.
After NYC FC passed the ball lazily around midfield for what seemed like an eternity, making no effort to move into Orlando City territory, the referees blew the whistle at 94:30, ending the match.
NYC FC is now 1-1-1 on the young season, with one win (at Chicago March 6), one tie (vs. Toronto on March 13) and one loss (this one to Orlando City).
New York City FC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of the game, “I think you have to give credit to Orlando. They came here, they worked hard, and they managed to win the game. And with luck, that’s part of the game. But I think we played better than we played against Toronto. I think I was really pleased with the way we tried to play and obviously we create some chances but I was pleased with the way we moved the ball around the pitch. I’m really disappointed because I think we managed to play well, especially in the second half but we give away the game in the first 10 minutes. The way we entered the game wasn’t good at all and it was really easy for them to defend.”
Vieira said of what disappointed him about the team’s start, “I think we went into the game with not enough desire, it wasn’t enough desire, enough concentration. I think we were a little bit too sloppy and then we make it easy for them.”
Vieira said of chasing the game for 80 minutes, and team’s energy, “Yes I was really pleased I have nothing against the players because I believe they gave everything in the second half. I would say even in the last 8 minutes they put a lot of intensity a love of desire to try and come back and that’s why I’m really frustrated tonight because we gave the game away. Our first 10-15 minutes really make it difficult for us and this is what’s frustrating because the last 75-80 minutes we controlled the game. We played in a really positive way. We created few chances. But the first 15 minutes wasn’t good at all.”
Vieira said of the unsuccessful conversion of corners, “Obviously we create few free kicks, I think we did some stuff quite really interesting, we created chances. But we are not a big size, I think set pieces are not in our strength, we just have to be a little more creative. But I think today we put ourselves in a really good situation in corners and set pieces but the finishes weren’t there but it is something that we are working on.
“I think in football the most important is to create chances. With the quality of the players we have up front we will score the goals. I am not at all worried about it. Today was day where the luck and the Orlando organization make it really difficult for us but we still create chances and I believe that we will get a time where it will be more luck on our side and we could keep scoring goals. But of course we have to keep working and keep believing in ourselves and working and working and working again.”
On how NYC FC can respond from the loss going into New England next Saturday at Yankee Stadium, Vieira said, “This is a really strong team with really strong character and you just have to look at Tony’s face and the rest of players at how disappointed they are and they will bounce back. It sfrustrating the way we lost the game yes, but the way we played, and the chances we made, and the way we controlled the game. That’s very encouraging and positive for the next game and the rest of the season.”
New York City FC forward Tony Taylor said of frustration on attacks and no result, “I believe in the second half we pushed forward and gave everything we had. Unfortunately the ball didn’t go in. We started off flat in the first half and we had to fight from behind. Unfortunately the ball didn’t go in but we have to move forward and continue working for the next game.”
New York City FC F Patrick Mullins said of coming in as a sub and trying to change the game, “When I come in at those moments, which has happened a fair bit in my first three years in the league, I’ve done it pretty well but you’ve still got to do it night in and night out so that’s disappointing that maybe I couldn’t bring that little magic in those last 10 minutes.”
Mullins said of changing formations to try and score a goal, “We went in to it with a 2-4 up top. We took off a midfielder, so just added one more up top. Tried to be a little more aggressive going forward, and I think we did that in the second half. We just didn’t get that final touch, that final killer instinct that you need in a game like this. They had it in the first 15 minutes of the game and that was the difference tonight.”
Mullins said of making sure the team wins its next home match, “I think we need to pay them back. We haven’t had the best record here in our history. Somethings got to change because in this league, in any league, you need to take care of your business at home if you want to be a successful team. There’s no real excuses, we’ve got to stay positive and get back together quickly and make sure, as you said, give the fans a little pay back next Saturday.”
New York City FC F Khiry Shelton said of the game, “Obviously it’s a very good team, it was a tough game for us. We had our chances and opportunities, we definitely had an opportunity to win the game.”
Shelton said of the team’s outlook going forward, “We’re feeling great, we just have to look forward and keep our heads up. That’s really it, just have to keep pushing forward.”