After time off for the international break, New York City FC traveled across the Canadian border to face Toronto FC. Historically, the Reds have a slight edge over the Bronx Blues, especially at their home stadium.
However, the Canadian side was winless against the Pigeons over the last three matches between the two, and both sides had just four points after the first four fixtures in Major League Soccer. Therefore, the game could have gone either way.
In the end, NYCFC lost again, falling 2-1 to Toronto. A late goal from Héber put the team on the board, but unfortunately it was too little, too late. Once again the team had chances and started well, but goalscoring struggles and defensive woes led to the loss.
So, here are three things we learned about New York City FC from the 2-1 result.
3. Defense contributed to the loss for New York City FC
Anyone can discuss the lack of goals from New York City FC in Toronto. Yes, they once again had opportunities that they were unable to capitalize on. But it was the defense that led to the loss. In complete honesty, Alexander Callens was the only defender that had a decent performance, and he was all over the pitch.
For starters, Ronny Deila had Nicolás Acevedo play in the right-back position, which was surprising. Although, he might have thought about Wednesday’s match against the Seattle Sounders in the CONCACAF Champions league, and decided to make that controversial choice. In other words, Tayvon Gray might not be ready to start all 90 minutes, and Deila might be planning to use Andres Jasson mid-week.
Consequently, Acevedo was the chosen right-back, and while he was not awful, he was not great either. Numerous times, Toronto players were able to get around the usual defensive midfielder. Thus, this led to attacking chances. Acevedo also did not look entirely comfortable. This led him to lose the ball at points, and even led to some defensive errors.
On the other side of the defense, Malte Amundsen was unavailable due to injury, so Chris Gloster was the chosen left-back. He had some positive moments, but his play was not good enough. He made some odd clearances where he could have brought the ball down or passed it. One such moment came in the first half, where he easily could have headed the ball to Sean Johnson, but instead cleared it out, giving Toronto a corner kick.
In all, while Gloster looked better from previous games, he was a clear downgrade from Amundsen. At the same time, there is potential within the young defender, and hopefully minutes with NYCFC II will lead to the unlocking of his abilities.
Then, there was Thiago Martins. Unquestionably, the center-back is struggling to adjust to MLS. In this fixture, he labored in the backline, and faltered immensely. Not only was he responsible for an own-goal, but when Toronto scored the first goal, he had an opportunity to intercept or block. Yet, he was unable to do, and the Reds never looked back.
Sure, with that goal, the entire defensive effort was absolutely awful. Still, perhaps Callens thought Martins was going to clear or block the ball, and that was why Jesús Jiménez was easily able to score. Nonetheless, the defense was messy throughout the match, including when they were able to defend. The second half was a little better, but the defenders had to clean up each other's mistakes.
Ultimately, it was a mix of luck, and the Pigeons’ attacking possession in the second half, which kept the score at 2-0 before the last minute goal. But whether it was 2-0, 2-1, or 4-0, New York City FC still lost.