NYCFC Loss At Home: Momentum Needs To Build


A bye week in their schedule for NYCFC and not a good welcome home Saturday evening at Citi Field after playing the last month on the road. After losing 3-1 to Eastern Conference foe Philadelphia, basically, they confront obstacles.

One of the concerns is losing that momentum, though the question had to be asked to coach Nick Cushing and in a vacant home locker room where players quickly dispersed.

This loss at home, though, where NYCFC hardly takes a loss, certainly was not a momentum builder for the next two matches at Yankee Stadium Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoon. More so because they oppose Cincinnati and New England, two premiere teams in the MLS who are ahead of them in the standings, so winning at home will be important.

A primary issue has been losing matches on the road, partly attributed to not getting a top seed in the MLS playoffs last season. Winning on their home turf has always been a strength after taking their past nine at different home venues.

But there were some positives, one being NYCFC quickly opening the scoring in the first half. Gabriel Pereira with his team leading fourth goal that went into the far corner of the opposing net. Other than that, NYCFC (4-6-4, 16 points) saw their winless streak reach five and that includes a draw.

Cushing, though, said his team is frustrated, He senses it and had a long post match meeting with his team. The players, on the contrary, said they will make adjustments and rebound with a quick turnaround of two matches in a span of four days.

If it means changing the lines, as Cushing implemented a bit in the second half, or acquiring some extra help through league protocols, NFCFC has not been in this awkward position since their championship MLS CUP year of 2021.

Then, Cushing, an assistant coach on the sidelines when NYCFC made their late season playoff run, learned more about adjustments. There is frustration but panic is not the word, though off a bye week and well rested, this was certainly not a good welcome home. Most of the 22,830 in attendance who remained could be heard booing as they exited Citi Field.

The Union improved to 5-0-2 in their last seven games and NYCFC could not stop Julian Carranza from recording his fourth career multi-goal game.

Players are really frustrated,” Cushing said. “I think you can see the frustration at the end of the first half. At the end of the game there was more frustration because we knew we were in the game at 1-0. We have control and then the game swings. This team has to learn from these moments.”

And a young team mixed with a few veterans, as NYCFC is currently constructed, will have these moments of finding a way. The goals surrendered to Philadelphia were also frustrating which also raised questions about the urgency of winning the next two at home.

Philadelphia and NYCFC have been rivals the past few years which added to the significance. The Union and NYCFC locked horns again after meeting the past two years in the MLS Eastern Conference finals.

But I asked defender Tayvon Gray, a NYCFC homegrown product and lone player available to comment, about this loss possibly being a setback.

I wouldn’t say it’s a major setback,” he said. “At the end of the day we lost and I don’t think too much of it. We have a game on Wednesday and Saturday so we are just going to move on. We had a really good streak at home for a while. I think we just have to get that back.”

He added, ”I think we did fairly well to be honest, especially at the beginning. We kind of just lost the momentum and they (Philadelphia) took over. He quickly denied there was a lack of attack in the second half.

They killed us on the counterattack,” Grey said. “It’s unacceptable to be like that on the counterattack. They got us on the long ball and it is just unacceptable and we have to do better. I think everybody needs to improve, from the back to the front.”

May 27, 2023; Flushing, New York, USA; New York City FC defender Thiago Martins (13) heads the ball against Philadelphia Union forward Julian Carranza (9) during the first half at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cushing, though, will have minimal time to make adjustments. He cited the congested schedule that currently has NYCFC in that part of their schedule. The coach was frustrated and commented he would love to be playing tomorrow.

We have to turn the guys around physically and have to make sure that they have recovered well. I have been here for three and half seasons so I am aware that there are real congested periods. The other teams played as well, It is the job,” he said. 

And the task is for Cushing and his team to quickly turn this around. If not, losses to Cincinnati and New England could create a scenario where their season becomes a struggle to secure a seed in the October playoff picture. Plenty of time, nevertheless, the schedule right now is not in their favor with Cincinnati and New England who have a few top scorers in the league.

We’ve played both of them,” Cushing said. “We played well. Okay, we lost in Cincinnati and we played well away against a difficult team. New England got a tie away and it was a positive performance. Having a game directly after a performance like this is an opportunity for the team. I saw a group of guys that were really frustrated in there and want to make sure they get wins on the board because we haven’t gotten enough wins on the board lately.”

Cushing said it will be good to get a win at home Wednesday, a tight turnaround. His team will train on the pitch and continue their fight to win. He does not expect a letdown or losing streak that will derail their plans during this difficult point of the schedule.

Though this is a league that has those swing moments, crucial games on the agenda for NYCFC, momentum of winning and doing it at home are their focus.

We’re just coming up against different styles of teams and tonight Philadelphia is a really mature team and a really direct team,” Cushing said.

And winning next week could revive that momentum .

Rich Mancuso: Twitter @Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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