Streak Stopped: NYCFC Ready For Next One

Mark Smith

Three second half goals from the Columbus Crew at Yankee Stadium Friday night after a rain delay of an hour and NYCFC saw their five-game winning streak come to a halt. However, this 3-2 loss had nothing to with their mid-season week hiatus from the schedule.

Coach Nick Cushing said the game reminded him of two real heavyweights going at each other, his team hit with a red card and coming up short with 15 minutes added to stoppage time. No excuses for breaking the momentum with an extended break. Cushing and his team opposed a team that won their fourth consecutive road game since losing in the Championship Cup final on June 1.

But losing at Yankee Stadium has been rare. The last time NYCFC lost at Yankee Stadium was 97 days ago, a 2-1 loss to Portland in their home opener. Their last loss on May 5 to Colorado, 2-0. They expect to win at home and with their winning streak, NYCFC had the second most wins in the MLS (9) and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Regardless this is a team that continues to have momentum as they prepare for road games at Los Angeles and Nashville, a span of two games in four days before returning to the Bronx and opposing Orlando.

What you saw tonight was probably two of the best teams in MLS going at each other,” said Cushing. “It was a top level game. If we are going to be the best league in the world, that a top level.”

Cushing had to make some changes in the lineup, tweaks as he said with the hope that the momentum would continue because of a red card. They got the first half lead, but Columbus would be aggressive and even things in the 48th minute. A penalty kick put Columbus up 3-1, though NYCFC would show their momentum a bit when Santiago Rodriguez got a goal in the 86th minute to make it 3-2.

But that red card in the 39th minute, Mitja Henic denied Columbus a goal-scoring opportunity, forcing Cushing with a man down to make some changes with 10 on the pitch. They never lost momentum, Agustin Ojeda gave NYCFC the early advantage ahead of a nice pass from Alonso Martinez.

This is soccer, sometimes you lose but you have to pick yourself up to continue and try and get the big points next match,” Ojeda said through a translator. He would score his second goal of the season and denied there was a loss of that momentum.

It was a battle, though NYCFC had their chances. Perhaps the layoff was a factor. Players though denied that it had an impact. The MLS, as Cushing said, is a tough league, and yes you can’t win them all.

We knew it was going to be a fight,” said goalkeeper Matt Freese who made nine saves, most since May 26th. “It was probably going to be an ugly one. Frustrated with the fact that it didn’t turn out, but also definitely proud of the way that the guys fought down a man against a good team. Never easy and putting two goals back is impressive.”

In their overall matchups NYCFC has always scored more second half goals against the Crew. Within a span of 27 seconds Freeze could not stop Columbus from getting to the net. Columbus would tie the score and go ahead.

Jun 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York City FC midfielder Santiago Rodriguez (10) plays the ball passed Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte (28) in the second half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We were trying to tweak it and get the fix and then the red card moment is one of those moments that just flip the game on its head,” Cushing said. NYCFC last defeated Columbus May 14, 2022, then a 2-0 win. In previous matches midfielders Justin Haak, Keaton Parks and Santiago Rodriguez scored goals. Midfielder Maxi Moralez had six assists.

But this was that heavyweight fight. Would have been appropriate to resume after the break and get the three points again in front of the 20,622 home fans. NYCFC will have little time to prepare for the two games in a span of a few days.

Playing with 10 players, I think we played well the first half.” Rodriguez said through a translator, also downplaying a loss of momentum due to the break. “Their (Columbus) build up made things a bit complicated for us. Our goal was great, but we were going uphill playing a man short. We worked hard and fought until the end. But we weren’t able to tie the match at the end.”

Basically, there were some tweaks that had to be made. But no momentum was lost, and they were encouraged to score their 10th and 11th goals in club history in a match after a red card. NYCFC expects to rebound on the road.

Of course,” said Tayvon Gray about a quick rebound. The homegrown NYCFC defender from the Bronx reiterated momentum was never lost. “This is soccer. You never get a break.”

For sure NYCFC did not get their share of breaks this time. Momentum, though, is never lost with this team.

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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