By Carlos DeJesus for NYsportsday.com
A contagion has struck the team of NYCFC and it is one that seems really difficult to shake. This disease has taken the form of an inability to close games and convert goals. After a 1-1 draw against DC United Saturday night, and only 5 games remaining on the season, the need for a cure has never been more dire.
“The result is not good for us because we missed five points in the last two games at Yankee Stadium” Coach Domenec Torrent said “If you are not able to score you’re in trouble.”
Picking up where they left off Wednesday with strong possession football and great build up play from the back, NYCFC kept the traffic moving in one direction for the first half of the game. Solid team defense and intelligent passing led to a handful of chances, keeping the momentum in favor of the home team.
“A big part of how we play starts with possession” Center back Sebastien Ibeagha said “The attack starts with Shawn, and the defending starts with David, so it’s a full eleven-man rhythm.”
With a crowd of 28,000 syncing up with the pulse of the third rail, Citizens on the pitch and in the stands exuded confidence. Showing the calm presence that seems to allude them on the road, the Blues camped out in the opponents third. Young savvy new comer James Sands playing in front of a collected back line, helped provide the security for the offense to move forward, even if they lacked the final touch and punch to take the lead.
“We have so many creative players and their job is to go forward and get the goals” said the 18-year-old Sands “I know we didn’t score these last two games but we created a lot of shots and on another day I know they’ll go in.”
DC United who came off a solid August and started September off with a redemption win against Atlanta United, looked to be overwhelmed for the entirety of the first half. Managing one weak shot on goal, they headed to the locker room in search of answers. But with New York again lacking finish, producing 3 out of 11 shots on target and no goals, DC was given permission to remain in the game.
“Defensively we were a little out of shape sometimes because they’re a good team” DC United coach Ben Olsen said “The soccer part wasn’t so great”
DC United continued to maintain focus on stopping the Blues from penetrating the middle of the pitch in the second half, leaving gaping channels for Sweat and Tinnerholm to push forward.
“We have to figure out how to bring the energy and score the first goal” said fullback Ben Sweat “We have to keep feeding off one another”
DC United completely in need of aid, received it in the shape of referee Kevin Scott. After missing two possible penalty calls in favor of NYCFC, he whistled for a free kick against the Citizens in their own third. Wayne Rooney took advantage of the field position by fluttering a free kick with pin point precision to Steve Birnbaum, beating a late arriving Sean Johnson and putting DC United up 1 at the hour mark.
Trapped in a Groundhog Day scenario, Déjà vu stared the Blues in the face again as their 17 shots and wonderful rhythm were drowned out by bad luck and that nagging contagious inability to close. A band-aid was placed on the problem after Valentin Castellanos won a foul atop the box, allowing David Villa to salvage a point by burying a beauty of a free-kick into the top right corner leaving DC Keeper Bill Hamid helpless.
Despite losing on their home ground for the first time on Wednesday night, NYCFC look unfazed by it. Averaging 67 percent possession these last two home games, with 59 shots and 14 on target, the brand of football they churn out at home continues to make the crowd salivate.
But with only one point to show for it and their last win coming on August 12th, time is running out for find the answer to what has been ailing them.