Salvaging a much needed three points at Yankee Stadium, NYCFC scraped by a lowly Houston Dynamo team 3-2 in the dying minutes of extra-time. Even down to ten men due to a Romell Quioto red card, Houston broke the tie shorthanded and looked like they would steal a rare win in the home of the Blues.
“It wasn’t our best game” said captain Alex Ring “but we were ready today unlike against Salt Lake, mentally and physically.”
Trailing from the 29th minute the attack took time to find its groove, but through the always aware Valentin Castellanos the Pigeons scored two including the extra time winner.
But the offense has already established its identity this season so that was no surprise, with a possession based style that can be devastating while throttling forward. But that forward thrust is also what can get the defense in trouble.
“We are sometimes too eager to attack, lose the ball and forget the balance” said Ring “It is something we definitely have to focus on, generally in how we position ourselves in case we lose the ball.”
With only one clean sheet in their last eleven games and fifteen goals allowed during that span, finding the balance on defense will be essential to a title run. NYCFC’s achilles heel this year has been an inability to close out tight games, with clean sheets sparse this season.
But with nine games remaining until playoffs, this Blues team which sits in 3rd place with three games in hand, knows all it would take is a slight adjustment in order to produce a balanced attack come playoffs.
“We are not getting back fast enough” said the Captain “we have to be ready for these situations, against better teams we won’t always come back”
But the team did come back, seemingly willing a victory in a game that seemed lost. That never say die sentiment could be felt in the locker room and coach Dome agreed saying “I am very happy because we came back and fought until the last moment. But we had to win this game, we needed the result.”
NYCFC have beat some of the best MLS has to offer, but self inflicted mistakes continue the trend of two steps forward one step back. The offense has been figured out, with an embarrassment of riches in new comer Heber and high flyer Castellanos.
But getting the defense squared away to allow an attack without conceding will be the yardstick this team is measured by, but all indications show they are very capable.
They will have to prove that in a big way as they visit defending champs Atlanta who sit one point ahead of them in second place.
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