NYCFC Home Opener: Inconsistent Two Halves

Ernesto Diaz

There was that sense of frustration with coach Nick Cushing in the Bronx Saturday afternoon after NYCFC allowed Portland a tying goal in the 85th minute. Cushing and NYCFC allowed Portland to get the winning goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

The 2-1 home opener loss and rally for Portland was the inconsistent two halves. The first after NYCFC had the 1-0 lead they protected. The second in the final minutes was not consistent and 24,744 fans in attendance, who braved rain and nasty conditions, were also frustrated. NYCFC for the first time in their history are off to a 0-3 start.

But losing this way perhaps with a young roster leads to frustration, though as Cushing said his team is competitive. The season could be a learning process and there is a long way to October before playoff implications are decided.

And there is no panic in the house. It’s much too early, despite this frustrating defeat at Yankee Stadium as NYCFC prepares for their next encounter in the Bronx Saturday evening against Eastern division rival Toronto FC.

But this one stings and it should. The players according to Cushing were quiet in their locker room, though media members with new procedures can’t get a grip on that. Media scrums and talking to players are now conducted as they exit their room.

But Cushing was frustrated. This to him was a poor showing especially to a loyal fan base that witnessed frustration down to the final game last season that knocked NYCFC out of the MLS Cup playoffs.

I thought for 45 minutes we were incredible, for 45 minutes,” Cushing said. Probably the best 45 minutes of football we played in about three or four years here. We looked high intensity. We looked really aggressive with and without the ball. We had five, six, seven chances. We didn’t put them away. We have to be, I said the same as what I said the past two weeks.”

Cushing was referring to the first two losses at Charlotte and Sr. Louis, again similar to last year, lacking scoring with the intensity. Also, NYCFC entered the game as the only team without a goal along with Orlando and Atlanta and lost for the first time in 14 games with a lead at halftime.

We have to execute better and we allow Portland to come back into the game,” he said. “And I think in the second half we just looked a little bit. I think we got to show a little bit more leadership and little bit more control of the game.”

Frustration for sure, though Portland keeper Maxime Crepeau made five saves. And Monsel Bakrar had a NYCFC goal disallowed in the second half after dribbling around two defenders and was called offside.

A young roster is expected to struggle. Scoring goals though are an emphasis to secure three points in the standings,

I think you saw in the first half we created I don’t know how many chances but if you don’t realize them, it is impossible to win,” said 19-year old defender Mitja Ilenic. “In the second half we were sloppy, in my opinion we weren’t even good. Just go on the training ground and get better.”

He denied there was frustration. It was more disappointing about two different halves. And a great attribute of Cushing, who has guided teams as an assistant in the UK and with NYCFC, he is not one to show frustration to his players. He reiterated this is a learning process for his team and he will continue to seek improvement.

But for NYCFC to make an impact, and they reiterated the significance of winning games in front of their home fans, they need to be consistent. They need to score, defend better and not surrender a decisive goal in stoppage time. Evander blasted a shot from about 25 yards out after easily getting the ball without a defender near him and that stunned NYCFC and the home crowd.

We had it until the end, and I think we did not manage the match well in the second half,” said Santiago Rodriguez who lifted a low and right-footed shot into the bottom right corner six yards out for the goal and early lead. “They came at us, and we fell too far back in our goal which hurt us quite a bit.”

A hurt that will sting until next Saturday in the Bronx. Regardless, as Cushing said things will and have to get better about playing a consistent two halves. There was no panic and that was quickly put to rest.

But we have to give them something to cheer about for 90 minutes,” Cushing said about the fan base support. “We know that, we’re realistic. I’m a realist.”

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly 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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