3 things we learned from a disappointing draw between NYCFC and Atlanta United

  • NYCFC and Atlanta United FC shared the points in a 1-1 draw
  • Here are three things we learned from the disappointing result
NYCFC / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

When New York City FC began the homestand on Saturday, they knew they had to perform well during this stretch and win as many games as possible.  Entering the match, they had just four points and sat in 14th place in the Eastern Conference.  Beating Atlanta United FC was the only option.

However, goal-scoring struggles again plagued the team, and they drew 1-1 with Atlanta.  Santiago Rodríguez scored the only goal for the team in what was otherwise a solid performance.  The offensive effort was there and the defense was mostly on point.  Plus, Matt Freese had another great night between the sticks.

Alas, since NYCFC really needed to win, the draw was disappointing.  It does not help they were up 1-0 either before Atlanta leveled the score.  Perhaps if the team had a better record if they were the one down, it would be easier to have a positive attitude about the result.  That is not the case though.

There is plenty to discuss about the draw.  Here are three things we learned about NYCFC from the match against Atlanta United.

3 things we learned form the 1-1 draw between NYCFC and Atlanta

1. Mounsef Bakrar is trying

NYCFC fans continue to criticize Mounsef Bakrar, and they have the right to do so.  The Algerian was signed as a striker to score goals, and so far, he has not been doing his job.  The team is desperate for that final touch, for they have scored only five goals in seven matches.  They have managed to score two goals in just one fixture.

Hence, they need help, so they need Bakrar to score.  That does not mean he is not trying.  Against Atlanta, the forward had six shots.  None were on target, but there were a few that were close.  His fight in the final third made it feel like he would get that goal, but that did not happen.

In addition, his overall performance was solid on the night.  He made himself available and he took his chances.  He also moved the ball into and near the box, seeking other teammates to pass to.  The issue at hand is that he is the team’s striker and should have scored.  There is no question that if he was not a striker, then his night would have not been labeled as a failure.

2. NYCFC’s goal-scoring abilities are MIA

NYCFC has been struggling in the goal-scoring department since last season.  As mentioned, the team has scored only five times in 2024.  They have been held scoreless in three of seven fixtures.  In the four they scored in, they are 1-1-2, with the only match with two goals being the 2-1 win over Toronto FC.

Realistically, the squad should be performing better and getting the ball into the back of the net.  But where are the goals?

In Saturday’s game, the offense was not missing by a long shot.  NYCFC had 23 shots against Atlanta.  However, only two were on target, including the penalty kick goal from Rodríguez.  Why are they struggling so much to put the ball on target?  Is it Nick Cushing’s tactics that are hurting their ability to capitalize?  Is it Bakrar’s struggles up front and center?

No matter the answer, NYCFC must find a solution.  The lack of goals is problematic.  There is no question that if the team scored more, then they would have a few more wins.  There are other problems too, but the inability to score is the biggest of them all.

3. This is the worst start for NYCFC through seven matches

Good performances cannot win matches alone.  Goals are a necessary part of the beautiful game.  Alas, the draw means NYCFC is now 1-4-2 with five points after seven games, which is a record nobody would ever want.  In fact, it is the club’s worst record through seven matches.  Yes, there were many years where the Pigeons had slow starts, but this is worse than the 2015 and 2016 starts, where they went 1-3-3, and 2020, where they went 2-5-0.  In those years, they still had six points.

More importantly, 2015 was the inaugural season and 2020 was the COVID season.  In other words, the starts were understandable.

One might argue this could be another slow start to the season.  But 2023 was not a great year, for NYCFC missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015.  Therefore, there is no acceptable defense to the start.  The Pigeons, especially with an improved roster, should be doing better.  Hopefully, they will find their way during the rest of the homestand.