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July 8, 2019

Portland Ends NYCFC Home Streak with 1-0 Win

Peter Nolan July 8, 2019

All good things must end.

On Sunday evening, NYCFC lost 1-0 for the first time at Yankee Stadium this season to a deserving Portland Timbers side.

Torrent proud of team despite final result

The loss is also New York’s first in league play since a 4-0 pasting by Toronto FC way back in March. New York coach Dome Torrent thought that his team deserved better.

“I think the team deserved more. I am very proud of them. It is not easy to play so many games without rest. We are missing some players but is not an excuse, it is a reality, but I am very proud of them. They deserved more. In the first half, we made one mistake and when you make a mistake in soccer it punishes you.”

That mistake came in the 14th minute and resulted in the game’s only goal. Scored by Sebastian Blanco (0:50 in the below video), the goal enough to stop NYCFC’s unbeaten run at 14 games. New York defender Sebastien Ibeagha was the culprit when he failed to clear Diego Valeri’s free-kick, instead directing the ball into Blanco’s path, inadvertently setting up Portland’s goal.

Torrent handed the start to Ibeagha because his squad is shorthanded at the moment. NYCFC is missing eight first-teamers, including center backs Alex Callens, part of the Peru team that lost the Copa America final to Brazil on Sunday, and James Sands, who had been a regular starter before fracturing his arm.

Timbers’ Savarese may love New York, but keeps focus on Portland’s performance

Portland coach Giovanni Savarese has strong ties to New York and the local soccer scene since leaving his native Venezuela for Long Island University Brooklyn, through the New York amateur and semi-pro leagues, on to the MLS MetroStars, and finally to his coaching career with the New York Cosmos.

But after the match, the coach wanted to keep the focus on his team.

“It was important to get these three points to continue to climb in the table. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. This team is a team that can bring you some difficulty and challenges. They are a good team and that’s why they had only lost one match before today.”

Savarese added, “ We expected a tough match. Very proud of the sacrifice of the players the way they battled united, how we found the goal, how we created some chances, but we also had to deal with a lot. They moved the ball well, New York City, and they were looking for spaces. We made sure we worked as a unit and we were able to get a very important result for us, but it wasn’t easy.”

That sacrifice that Savarese spoke of included the team defense that frustrated a New York side that seemed bereft of ideas once it got in sight of the Portland goal. Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark had something to do with New York’s frustration too.

When NYCFC did find a way through the Portland defense Clark was there to earn the shutout despite New York’s 15 to10 shot advantage, that included five shots on target to just two by Portland on Brad Stuver in the home goal.

With New York pressing desperately to preserve its perfect home mark, Clark had to be alert virtually until the final whistle, tipping an Ibeagha header over the crossbar in the 94th minute to preserve Portland’s victory and the shutout.

Sunday’s win brings ninth place Portland within three points of eighth-place Real Salt Lake and four points back of seventh-place Houston and a playoff spot.

NYCFC remains in fifth place.

Up next for NYCFC

NYCFC Next Games:

Wednesday, July 10th – US Open Cup @ Orlando City

Sunday, July 14th – MLS regular season @ New York Red Bulls

NYRB +104Draw +260NYCFC +240

USMNT Has the Heart, not the Talent to Overcome Mexico in Gold Cup Final

High Press 10 July 8, 2019

Today was a contrast of United States national soccer programs.

In France, the USWNT won back-to-back World Cup titles, defeating Netherlands 2-0. The game was a testament to the absurd wealth of talent the USWNT program has at its disposal. Yes, they play with heart and unmatched charisma. At the end of the day though, they just have better players than everyone else.

That’s not necessarily the case with the USMNT.

As discussed in our preview post of the Gold Cup Final against Mexico, some think El Tri have a positional advantage at each line-up spot over the Americans.

At a minimum, Christian Pulisc showed that’s definitely not the case tonight. However, despite a spirited and gutty effort, the USMNT simply couldn’t overcome the talent disparity against Mexico, losing the Gold Cup Final 1-0.

Both teams had big chances early

This game saw both sides create big chances early on.

Christian Pulisic, who often looked like the best player on the field, and Jonathan dos Santos both had near misses in the opening minutes.

Jozy Altidore, who earned the start over beleaguered striker Gyasi Zardes, will rue a missed opportunity in the 8th minute. Altidore received a headed pass from Paul Arriola that left him with a clear shot to put the US ahead. He muffed it off his right foot, sending the shot wide.

Almost immediately thereafter, Raúl Jiménez’s header was denied by US keeper Zack Steffen.

VERY physical, open, hyper-charged play continued until the half. The US and Mexico went into the tunnels tied 0-0.

Scoring opportunities continued, Mexico converted one of theirs

The second verse was same as the first, as both sides came out physical.

Mexico was lucky not to earn a red card, as Jozy Altidore was cheap-shotted in the 47th minute.

Big scoring chances continued as well. The US almost took the lead in the 51st minute. Christian Pulisic delivered a corner that Jordan Morris headed from close range. Morris beat Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, but Jesus Guardado was perfectly positioned to head the ball away before it crossed the line. It was a brilliant and ultimately game-changing block.

Mexico broke through in the 79th minute as Jonathan dos Santos finished a dirty little flick from Jiménez.

The US dug in and fought to create more chances until the very end. Ultimately, the dos Santos goal was the difference in the game.

USMNT can build on this

Two things were clear from this match:

  1. The US doesn’t have the quality of talent to match Mexico just yet. Outside of Pulisic and Weston McKennie, there’s a striking talent and tactical disparity.
  2. However, if they can play with this level of intensity moving forward, they will gut out some surprising wins.

This is not a game the US should leave discouraged. They fought hard and were a bit unlucky not to convert. It was their best overall display of the tournament, even though it ended in a loss.

The US can — and should — build on this.

Bradley Wright-Phillips Delivers Stoppage Time Goal as New York Red Bulls Draw Atlanta United 3-3

High Press 10 July 8, 2019

Bradley Wright-Phillips took advantage of an(other) Atlanta United defensive breakdown in the 93rd minute, helping the New York Red Bulls secure a road point with a 3-3 draw.

With the exception of a thrilling final five minutes that also saw Josef Martinez put Atlanta ahead in the 91st, this was a sloppy, physical, frustrating mess of a game.

Atlanta starts fast then disappears

The home team started strong, controlling possession and the overall tempo of the game. Playing on their front foot, Atlanta got on the board first after Pity Martinez threaded a perfect ball to Justin Meram, which he neatly tucked away past Luis Robles.

Atlanta slowed the pace down but looked in control until the 29th minute. Then center-back Florentin Pogba — who had looked among the best on the pitch up until that point — went out with an injury. The entire tone of the game quickly changed.

New York leveled the game eight minutes after Pogba’s departure as Daniel Royer capitalized on poor Atlanta defending to knock a left-footed shot into the top corner past Brad Guzan. The game went to half-time tied 1-1.

New York takes over in the second half

Whether it was the Red Bulls stepping up their game or Atlanta simply looking disorganized and disinterested, New York took command in the second half.

The Red Bulls took a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute when Brian White was left unchecked by a sloppy Atlanta defensive, easily burying a feed from Alex Muyl.

Another Pity-ful performance

Just as Pogba’s injury departure changed the game, so did a timely substitution in the 63rd minute by Atlanta coach Frank de Boer.

The micro Pity Martinez Experience is the perfect encapsulation of the macro experience of this game in general. Pity is capable of fleeting moments of brilliance, like his pass to Meram leading to the opener.

Mostly though, he’s sloppy, careless, lackadaisical and temperamental. He’s a frustrating and miserable player to watch.

Fortunately for Atlanta fans in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they didn’t have to deal with the Pity Martinez Experience past the 63rd minute. He was subbed off to absolutely no pattering of applause as Brandon Vázquez took his place.

Atlanta looked immediately improved.

They broke through in the 79th minute, as Josef Martinez drew a penalty in the box. Moments later, he leveled the game from the spot 2-2.

Five minutes of fury

Even in more turnover prone and careless stretches of play, the game had been chippy and physical throughout.

Everything amped up the final five minutes in stoppage time.

Josef Martinez netted a brace in the 91st minute, heading home a goal to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead.

Just two minutes later, BWP, who subbed on in the 77th minute for Brian White, tied the game 3-3 when Atlanta forgot the general concepts of defending yet again.

The Atlanta crowd went utterly silent at that point.

The players, however, did not.

The chippy play that had been building all game reached a boiling point in the 95th minute. A couple of on-field scrums nearly broke out, and the refs just decided to end the game, leaving the home crowd stunned.

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