Luis Barraza and a little bit of luck leads NYCFC to a point on the road

NYCFC / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, New York City FC traveled west to face Real Salt Lake.  The last time the two faced off was at Yankee Stadium in 2022, where the Pigeons scored six goals.  This year, the team is quite different, and the quest for survival on the road will be the goal for this fixture. 

Yet, the outlook was bleak since Tony Alfaro, Justin Haak, and James Sands were all starting as the center-backs, with Alfaro being the only true center-back.  Sands can play in the role, but he has been known to struggle.  Then, Haak is yet to be determined. 

Moreover, the Bronx side has not won in Utah.  Yes, there was that 6-0 win last year on Easter Sunday, but that was a home fixture.  Goals have been hard to come by, especially on the road.

Hence, it was slightly surprising that NYCFC earned a 0-0 draw against RSL.  But Luis Barraza, who had four saves, and some luck, helped the visitors earn a point on the road.

NYCFC earns point at RSL thanks to Luis Barraza and luck 

The first half saw New York City FC lead in possession, but it was Real Salt Lake who had more attacking opportunities.  With that being said, they only had two shots on target out of ten, while the Pigeons had three shots and a lone one on target.  Thus, the difficulty to capitalize was shown by both sides.

It was the second half though where RSL was the bigger threat, but thankfully, they were unable to capitalize after another ten shots and two on target.  However, there were quite a bit of offensive build up opportunities that kept NYCFC on edge.  But alas, the home team was unable to figure things out in order to outshoot the Pigeons even more, who had just five on the night.  

It was Barraza who kept his team in the game, and he had some impressive moments during the match, including a big save in the 26th minute.  Danny Musovski had no one directly in front of him, despite the fact there were NYCFC defenders closing him down.  Still, Barraza slightly came out of his goal, and the winger took his shot.  But the goalkeeper made himself big and moved right toward the ball at the right moment, leading to a save. 

Meanwhile, there were giveaways throughout the entire pitch too, but some at the defensive end were very dangerous.  Tayvon Gray, who came on in the second half, gave the ball way at one point near the box, and this led to a strong opportunity by Anderson Julio.  Barraza was forced to make his biggest save of the night with a fast reaction time, and then luckily the second attempt went wide.  

More importantly, the defense was extremely shaky.  Yes, they defended their goal, and there were critical clearances and blocks made, but it was a poor defensive effort.  It was not just the giveaways, but the marking.  The center-backs had quite a few missed marks, and were lucky that RSL players could not capitalize every single time.  With better accuracy, this game could have been very ugly.  Although, sometimes a little bit of luck can help a struggling team.

Next. NYCFC announced Thiago Martins will miss time due to knee injury. NYCFC announced Thiago Martins will miss time due to knee injury. dark

In spite of everything, the Pigeons have now gone winless in nine straight overall matches.  Everyone is hungry for a win, especially the fans.  Many are becoming restless, and likely will not see the confidence booster this draw can lead to.  Yes, it was not pretty, and somewhat poor defensively, but thank to Barraza and a little luck, New York City FC is heading home with a clean sheet and a point.