Before New York City FC could even take the field this weekend, fans were up in arms about the lineup Nick Cushing put out. With players out due to suspensions and injury, the Pigeons were already without critical players. But the head coach decided, at least that was the thought, to prioritize the Campeones Cup, which is set to occur on Wednesday.
As such, players like Maxi Moralez and Santiago Rodríguez started the game on the bench, and others like Gedion Zelalem, who has barely played this year, got the start. It was a surprising move, especially since NYCFC has been on the downfall. They have played some poor matches as of late, and when they played well, have failed to get the goals in order to win.
Arguably, Cushing should have prioritized the fixture against Charlotte FC. The Pigeons already lost to the team in their inaugural season just last month, and truthfully played abysmal football during the second half of that match. At the same time, if the purpose was to rest players, then it is somewhat understandable, especially since others are unavailable.
Alas, the Campeones Cup will not help NYCFC with their playoff push, or really with anything this season. It would be nice to win the trophy, but the focus must be on Major League Soccer.
New York City FC loses again; team continues terrible slide
Unfortunately, although expected, New York City FC lost 1-0. Charlotte had an early goal after the Bronx side failed to defend a shot from a throw in, and they just could not find a goal. The team also played poorly in the first half, and offensively could not find anything at all.
The second half was a different story though. During a corner kick, Christian Fuchs swung his arm into Tayvon Gray’s face, and brought the defender down to the ground. Initially, a yellow card was produced, but after VAR, the malice was clearly evident, and Fuchs was given the red card instead.
Therefore, Charlotte played with just 10 men from the 56th minute. At the same time, Moralez, Rodríguez, and Héber were brought on, and immediately made an impact in the attack. The passing and crossing improved significantly, and the Pigeons mostly controlled the pace of play.
Still, despite the improved offense, the back of the net was a foreign place to NYCFC. They were up a man, and the substitutions by Cushing made a difference, but the goal could not be found. Again, they lost to Charlotte, and continued their decline.
The initial starting XI could not get the job done, and sadly gave up the early goal. But the changes made in the second half could not even find a point for the Pigeons. The sad part was that in the final half an hour, plus stoppage time, the team played well. After having just four shots and none on target in the first half, they had eight shots in the second, but one on target. It looked like they could finally get the goal, but nothing came to fruition.
If there was one positive to this match, then it was the return of Keaton Parks. The American midfielder last played on June 22 before he required another surgery due to a blood clot in his leg. In his return, he had a decent performance. He helped spark the offensive effort, and made smart passes. In an odd way, his presence brightened up the midfield. It is good to see him back, and hopefully he will have more minutes in the final fixtures of the season.
Nevertheless, New York City FC continued their awful slide, and were unable to win when the tides turned in their favor. Anyone can look at the good in a game, but without any points, that good is meaningless. The days and nights are dark for both the club and the fans, and the rest of the season looks bleak.