Talles Magno opened the scoring in the 17th minute and NYCFC got the early advantage Saturday evening at Yankee Stadium but D.C United would not make it easy for the Boys in Blue. Trailing 2-0 at the half, D.C. cut their deficit in the opening minute.
In the 88th minute, the deciding goal put the game away, as Santiago Rodriguez led a pass to Thiago Andrade. NYCFC had to battle but got their second straight win in back-to-back weeks at home, 3-2. They said it was a good win at home but the components to their game are still coming together with a mix of veterans and mostly newcomers.
That work is their consistency in finding a way of building a lead, but this is the MLS, a league that’s played at a quick pace in the pitch. Overall, this is a work in progress, a task that continues to be evident based in the early going of this long and arduous MLS season.
The coach, Nick Cushing says, working on consistency of adding to their lead is an emphasis. And the keeper, Luis Barraza, is adjusting to no longer being the backup to Sean Johnson, who departed with a free agency deal to Toronto. Basically, he admits to working on the adjustments as the progress continues with a mix of veterans and newcomers.
“I think that the guys that came in made a difference,” Barraza said about Andrade and his goal. “We are upset with their second goal (D.C.) but we will grow from that. Ultimately, we got the win and that is what matters.”
And this is a work in progress for Barraza. He allowed a goal late in the second half off the post that went to the back of the net, even for Johnson, the perennial all-star that would have been difficult to handle. But it is more than a goal that made things tight, because NYCFC is looking to close out games after taking the early advantage.
“I think the first half I was really pleased with,” Cushing said. “As the season goes on, we have to take on those opportunities. We have to go three, four, goals up. Because there were two or three really good moments outside of the goals that we scored, the team has to have a real motivation to play a 90-minute performance with the ball.”
He said the D.C. goal after the half was a shock, then again, this fast paced league will see teams quickly come out quick after the break. Regardless, it’s the consistency of NYCFC scoring early and tacking on their lead, a work in progress that will now continue on the road Saturday at Houston
“We have a lot of young guys on our team,” Cushing said. “So, I know that it’s going to take us time, and then the game’s messy, and their style contradicts to our style with a lot of balls in the air. In the end, I was pleased. Maybe not that we got the ball down and controlled the game with our style, but that we showed a different style of ourselves in the ability to fight and pick up second balls and reduce them.”
There is no denying the fact, NYCFC won those second chances. Also, they are aware giving second chances to a team will limit their ability to build on that momentum of a lead and eventually come away with a point or more in the standings.
Still, though, early enough to make the adjustments but they’ll be doing it away from their friendly confines at Yankee Stadium and their upcoming two home matches across the bridge at Citi Field. The team returns to Yankee Stadium Saturday April 8 versus Atlanta United FC.
“So, yeah, I’m pleased, but we have to be better with the ball,” Cushing said. “I’ve just said to the team that at home, I love the responsibility and expectation to win in front of our fans, because the atmosphere is so good. I can’t praise our fans enough for helping us see the match over the line. They are the 12th player. We have to go on the road and win football games. If you want to be in those four positions (Eastern Conference) and science we want to get higher than 3rd place, you have to get points on the road.”
NYCFC has the ability to get points away from home, a matter of improvement and building off that first half. Basically, still a work in progress and having the right players in the pitch, adjustments also for Rodriguez a midfielder. He recently rejoined the team with a four-year deal on loan and can make a difference.
“We are a young team that is developing and that is only going to come with time,” Barraza said. Thiago Martins, Maxime Chanot, James Sands, Keaton Parks, Alfredo Morales, a part of that contingent. Yes, it’s a work in progress.
“But I think we show that we can defend and we can fight and give everything for each other,” Morales said. “We deserve the win, and this is a very good way to represent ourselves as a team, and we are on our way to become the top team.”
Rich Mancuso [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube