Musings on the New York City FC Match: Pigeons Plucked


by Jason Goodbody

St Louis CITY SC dropped NYCFC 2-0 Saturday night after showing much improvement across all forms of play in contrast to the 0-1 loss to Houston in CONCACAF action on Tuesday as well as the 1-1 Real Salt Lake draw last weekend.

Last season, CITY was at or near the bottom of passing and attacking stats such as total number of passes, completed passes, successful passing percentage, time of possession, and passes to Klauss that were visibly obvious to Klauss he absolutely should have gotten. That last one isn't on the stat sheet but it feels right. Despite these seemingly woeful numbers last season, St. Louis still had solid offensive results, nearing top of the league in what matters; goals and wins. This season left many wondering if St Louis' pressing and counter-pressing style of play could deliver similar success and the Houston loss and Real Salt Lake draw left those very same wondering that it may not. But two games won't a season make and this result against a very expensive and talented NYCFC team proved that CITY can possess the ball just a tiny bit more, pass a few more times, more accurately connect those passes, and CITY will win games and look good doing it. Maybe in future games, they'll even get the ball to João Klauss a bit more. His momma's crying right now with him being left off the scorer's sheet these last 3 games.

Fixture Congestion is real

Four games in 11 days can take a toll on team performance if you don't allocate playing time well. Carnell has rotated player minutes to manage tired legs and bumps and bruises through the opening games of league play on top of CONCACAF tournament matches. And so in similar fashion, this writer was in need of a break and sat out for CONCACAF game two against Houston as we lacked depth on our website as far as musers go. Now I'm rested and have responded well to writers' block treatment from the exceptional CITY SC Report training and medical team. We'll see if I'm back in form.

Roman Bürki, I say we keep him

The reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the year secured his first clean sheet of the year and….goodness, he absolutely clobbered Hannes Wolf while saving his shot off forward Kevin O'Tool's header into the box. Bürki got big as good goalkeepers do, maybe swiped Wolf's head with his big gloves mitts in the process, and as NYCFC players also did all night, Wolf collapsed in a pile trying to draw another foul but one that never came. It was otherwise great to see Bürki having a quieter night than usual, needing to stop just a single shot on goal by New York. This is in large part due to an increasingly strong defensive back line. Hopefully Bürki will need to be less-heroic this year.

This Defense can be good

Speaking of strengthening defensive back lines, the off-season acquisitions of Tomas Totland and Nikolas Dyhr coupled with the improving health and fitness of Joakim Nilsson, the development of Anthony Markanich, and an ever-steadfast Tim Parker has the potential to change a significant number of game outcomes this year. In his short time with CITY, Tomas Totland has seemed to neutralize every 1 on 1 so far and is destined to continue to deliver a sense of calm to nervous CITYPARK denizens when opposing teams go on the attack this season. His ability to also be effective waaaaaaaaaay up the field is what makes attacking defenders so dangerous and is what was consistently missing last year.

Joakim Nilsson is who we hoped Joakim Nilsson would be and so long as he remains healthy, will continue to be a menace to the opposing central attack with his disruptive precision tackles.

Anthony Markanich will hold his left back position as he continues to play very strong minutes and Tim Parker continues to do Tim Parker things. Fun!

Nikolas Dyhr poofs into existence

Nikolas Dyhr, the talented off-season acquisition from the Danish Super Liga finally subbed on as left back in the 88th minute after having been inexplicably absent from the first two games and pre-season. Some (me) had become convinced that perhaps he really didn't exist, much like a Danish mythical creature like the lindorm or the terrifying helhesten, or even the impish Niß Puk. In an effort to manifest his appearance over these last few weeks, I had arranged lit candles in the shape of a Viking rune circle and spoke his name 3 times in unsuccessful attempts to make him appear. I thought I'd just been mispronouncing his name this whole time, which doesn't make for successful conjuring. (It's pronounced doo-yer apparently)

But it turns out his absence wasn't entirely inexplicable as Bradley Carnell shared that he simply needed time to return to game fitness, having been out of playing form since his Danish club's season break in early December.

Scattershot musings

  • In an appeal to St Louis CITY SC Chief Experience Officer Matt Sebeck I think we need to liven up the halftime festivities. The sprinkler system-based halftime show was interesting for the first few games last year but has grown bland and predictable. I watch for a while then got bored. Also I keep anticipating the grounds crew and practicing players to get soaked but they keep avoiding the spray. Rating this a 2 out of 10 in my survey.
  • Cèlio Pompeu and Samuel Adeniran are a deadly combination and I hope they spend more time hanging out with each other; get to know each other's tendencies, where they like the ball placed, how they like their coffee, become bestest of friends, whatever it takes.
  • The goalpost defense from New York City FC was their lone bright spot of the night.
  • DC United transfer Chris Durkin is settling in beautifully. Whether he's a consistent starter or shares time with Njabulo Blom, he need to see the field. He frees up Edu Löwen to do Löwen things. With confidence in a strong defensive midfield bolstered by a healthy back line, Löwen looked like himself out there, allowing him to control the pace of play and develop an effective attack.

See you next time.  #AllForCITY

Check out musings from the Real Salt Lake match. 

Photos courtesy of St Louis City SC and Jason Patrylo