David Villa could have been the deciding factor for NYCFC and he has been the entire season But the captain scored one goal Sunday evening at Yankee Stadium and that was not enough in this scoring system that is difficult to understand in the MLS playoffs.
It’s defined as an aggregate score and that was more aggravating for the 23,246 fans who saw their team end a season based on four goals scored in two Eastern Semifinal playoff games against the Columbus Crew.
.So for the second straight year that combination of aggregate goals eliminated NYCFC from advancing to the conference finals. One can debate that this is not the way to determine a playoff system but it seems to work when you score enough goals.
The issue the past month was the inability of NYCFC to compile the right amount of goals
Villa was not around to comment about the season when the locker room opened. And a good many of the players also left early and avoided the media but the prevailing thought was about the next few months before the start of another training camp in January.
But that one goal needed in a NYCFC 2-0 win does not seem fair. What team in other sports goes home after winning a playoff game at home? That first match Tuesday night at Columbus was the difference with a late goal scored by the Crew and again this is not a best of three format so one more goal was needed Sunday in the Bronx.
Said goalie Sean Johnson, “There was not a single person in this locker room who looked at a 3-0 result and thought it was out of reach. Everybody in this group and it shows our true character and what our relationships mean to each other on and off the field.”
But on the field ,and this time of year in the MLS playoffs, goals are important. Johnson was asked about a possible change from an Aggregate system to a best of three. And there are those around the team who truly believe that one more game against the Crew could have meant a trip to the conference finals.
“It has been this way a long time and we almost got it,”said Johnson about the playoff scoring system. However, momentum as it is in any sport could have carried over to another game, and at this point it was Tuesday night, the one goal that got by Johnson late in the game.
That was the difference from advancing instead of going home.
Villa has scored nine goals in eight matches against Columbus. He almost had one more and that was stopped There were many more chances that went against NYCFC, again bringing up a point about that one goal difference that was scored in the opening leg of this semifinal.
“Of course I am disappointed that we are not going to the East finals,” said coach Patrick Vieira who has led NYCFC to the playoffs in consecutive years. “I felt like there was a space there to score the third goal and I am upset, frustrated and disappointed.”
And that frustration spread to the officials. Vieira said, “Time and tempo. The referees did not handle it well.” The coach said, next year will be better and he does not know the status of his contract that needs to be renewed.
There will be improvements and that comes with scoring more goals around the defense. But changes with the playoff scoring system will stay in place and that leaves one room of thought for NYCFC. They know not to be in a similar position next year.
“We’re just a little unlucky we didn’t get the final result,” said defender Ben Sweat.
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