At Yankee Stadium Saturday afternoon, NYCFC sensed there was an urgency to win in this finale of a three-game home stretch at Citi Field and in the Bronx. More so, NYCFC has been frustrated with their lack of getting a needed win at home.
The stretch has been difficult with their second match in three days coming off a loss Wednesday evening to league leading Cincinnati. Yes, there was that urgency to win and get a needed three points in the Eastern Conference standings.
There is no denial about the urgency after NYCFC and New England finished with that 0-0 draw, though 22,003 fans in the Bronx were not content with the outcome. NYCFC fans are loyal and sense the urgency about a team finding ways to score goals and compile points in the standings.
A draw, though, is not a loss but three points at home was almost in their reach thanks to missed opportunities. Coach Nick Cushing and NFCFC closed out this rough stretch at home 0-2-1, and head to Utah (Real Salt Lake) next Saturday evening. In two weeks, Columbus, another team ahead of NYCFC in the standings, visits the Bronx.
The schedule leaves little room to be considered taking on an easy opponent, thus the urgency to get a decisive win and compile goals will await NYCFC in Utah, another formidable opponent though struggling in the MLS Western Conference standings.
Despite holding their opponent scoreless at home for the second time this season, and for the first time since their opener at Yankee Stadium vs. Inter Miami on March 11, NYCFC have conceded a total of eleven goals at home. Indeed that is a positive.
Possibly sensing the urgency, Cushing made four changes to the side that faced Cincinnati. Keeper Luis Barraza returned in place of Matt Freese, Alfredo Morales. Richy Ledezma, and Juston Haak replaced Gabe Segal, Tony Alfaro and Tayvon Gray, who served a one game suspension for a red card altercation in the physical match with Cincinnati.
Regardless, NYCFC continues to feel the frustration. Urgency, though, to some is not in their game plan. There is still plenty of season and room to turn this around.
“We are creating, we are defending, doing every little thing we have to do,” Barraza said. “There’s nothing to really be upset about. Today guys were fantastic on both sides of the ball.”
Regardless, this is now a winless streak of seven for NYCFC, in many ways there is that urgency. Ledezma almost scored in the 34th minute but his right-footed try from outside the box clanged off the right post.
“Yes, urgency,” Barraza said when I reiterated the question. “Think today we jumped into this game having the previous two at home, something that was eating at us frustrating to drop points at home is something we feel deeply about. We feel the frustration but at the same time you have to play the next game. We’re working on turning this around.”
And they truly believe this will turn around. Cushing said the frustration continues, a sense of urgency, though as I asked, is not the issue. Cushing is all about seeing situations turn around and has been in this position with various roles during his 17 years with NYCFC, whether it be Manchester or as an assistant.
Cushing has the trust of his players and NYCFC higher ups. In due time, he said the goals will come but urgency is not the word. He was defensive and that comes with the frustration.
“What I’ve seen in these past two performances is a team that should win,” he said. “I don’t have the answers as to why we don’t win. I don’t think the gods are with us at the moment , but I also think we will win. We play that game ten times…and listen, if people disagree I am okay to debate it, if they don’t think we are doing enough to win a football game or they don’t think we’re running enough, or they think that defensively we’re not organized, if they think offensively we’re not creating chances, because ultimately there is a goal at this end and if you do enough to put in this goal you will win.”
It was a continuous rant about winning for his guys, sensing again the frustration, and whether Cushing will or will not admit, the urgency has set in.
“I feel deep down, I will continue to fight and I will continue to work and I will find the solution and this team will get up the league whatever the solution is,” he said.
He said the dressing room has a confident group. They believe, trust each other, and are confident what they are doing. Cushing understands the frustration is growing. And all of those questions about urgency and frustration are simple:
NYCFC needs a win on the road. And another one when they return home in front of their home fans in two weeks.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com,/Rich Mancuso