While James Sands was starting for the USMNT, New York City FC traveled to the Rose City on Saturday to play the Portland Timbers. This was the first match between the two since the Pigeons lifted the MLS Cup in 2021, and was expected to be an interesting battle.
So far this season, both sides were struggling, and the outsider would think anything could happen. However, NYCFC was winless on the road going into the fixture. Plus, they had a chance to win on Wednesday, but sadly a late goal saw Atlanta United FC tie the game, continuing the future Queens team’s winless streak.
The pressure was surely high in Portland, and with Sands now away for international duty in the Gold Cup, some players had to step up. At least Maxime Chanot was back in the Starting XI, but the doubt from supporters was immense.
Hence, it was not a surprise when NYCFC drew the Portland Timbers, 1-1. As a result, the team has officially tied the 11 game winless streak from the 2015 Major League Soccer season. In all competitions, it now stands at 12. This stretch has been extremely horrid and rough, but if there is anything positive from this game, then it is the fact they earned an away point, and have not lost in the last five fixtures.
NYCFC drew Portland 1-1, but frustration mounts due to winless streak
When looking at the two teams, it was clear New York City FC did not play their best game. Defensively they were strong, but otherwise Portland was the better side offensively. The Timbers had almost 54% of the possession, and outshot the Pigeons 16 to eight. On target, the difference was seven to three.
In fact, NYCFC sometimes looked dreary with their play and passing. But thankfully, the incredible defensive performance made up for other aspects of the match. Somehow, the players has 45 clearances, which is extremely high. These clearances made the difference in limiting Portland on the attack, despite the fact the Oregon side had a solid offensive game.
Moreover, the teamwork to recover the ball or send it away when the opposition was coming in hot was superb. In the first half, a notable moment came around the 11th minute. Tayvon Gray had given the ball away, but then he himself and Chanot were able to head the ball away, and Keaton Parks blocked a shot.
It was the second choice goalkeeper Matt Freese who had the Man of the Match performance though. The American had six saves on the night, and was a huge part of keeping the match at 1-1 in the second half.
Sure, it was a defensive lapse by Gray that allowed Evander to score in the 38th minute, but overall the defense was on fire. Now only if the offense was the same way. Still, NYCFC was able to score in the 51st minute thanks to a header by Parks. Matías Pellegrini took the free kick, and served it perfectly to the midfielder. That goal saw a point earned away from home, but at this rate, it was not enough.
The fact the Pigeons failed to win again is frustrating beyond words. 11 games winless in MLS is not the NYCFC way. 2015 was different; it was the first season for the club. And since then, there have been poor stretches, but wins were always mixed in. Most importantly, 2015 was the first and last year the team did not make the playoffs and finish below 5th place. At this moment, that is threatened.
Again, the lack of goals is not helpful by any means. Excluding the Parks goal, Talles Magno was the only player to have shots on target, with a total of two. The Brazilian actually had a good performance, for he was mostly on the wing and moved well up the pitch. He also became Andres Jasson during his time on the pitch, drawing fouls left and right.
When all is said and done, only so much time can go on before the frustration turns into full-on anger, and the remaining patient supporters join everyone else with wanting certain individuals out of the club. New York City FC might have had a defensive performance that could be spoken about for years, but they have to find a way to win. Time is ticking, and frustration is growing.