New York City FC 1-2 Toronto: 3 things we learned from defeat

Apr 2, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York City defender Thiago Martins (5) battles for the ball
Apr 2, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York City defender Thiago Martins (5) battles for the ball / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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New York City FC
Apr 2, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York City forward H ber (9) celebrates a late goal with New / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

1. New York City FC must focus on the Champions League

Losing is unpleasant, and New York City FC surely know this by now.  It is even worse when all statistics point in the favor of the team, but unfortunately they were unable to capitalize on the opportunities.  And again, the defensive errors led to Toronto’s win, but who knows what would have happened if the controversial VAR decision did not occur.  Despite the result though, the Bronx side must focus entirely on their next fixture. 

On Wednesday, the team will travel to Washington to take on the Seattle Sounders in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.  There is no doubt this will be a tough matchup, and NYCFC must be completely focused.  The players must forget about their MLS record, and focus on one thing: beating Seattle in Seattle. 

Of course, the CCL journey almost ended for the Pigeons.  In the second leg of the quarterfinals, the defense collapsed, and the players survived by the skin of their teeth.  Thanks to away goals, NYCFC moved on while the score was 5-5 on aggregate.  It was a poor performance that cannot be repeated in the semifinals, especially in the first leg. 

Hence, Deila must ensure that the team is ready defensively against Seattle.  Mistakes cannot occur, and the Sounders’ chances must be limited.  The defensive third must make every clearance and block possible, and if possible, NYCFC would use possession to assist with reducing their opponent’s opportunities in the final third. 

More importantly, they must score away goals.  Valentín Castellanos might be struggling in MLS, but he has four goals already in the CCL.  Ideally, the Argentine would get on the scoresheet, but at least the goals have been shared throughout the competition.  Multiple players are capable of scoring, and as seen already this year, younger players like Magno are stepping up. 

Finally, NYCFC already won the MLS Cup.  Now, they are chasing a trophy that no MLS side has won before, but they have to beat Seattle to have the chance of fighting for North America’s ultimate prize.  The focus must be entirely on the semifinals, and New York City FC must play their absolute best on Wednesday.