NYCFC: 3 things we learned from the 2-1 loss to Portland

  • NYCFC suffered a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers in their home opener
  • Here are three things we learned from the match
Mounsef Bakrar of NYCFC
Mounsef Bakrar of NYCFC / Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC returned home for the first time this season in a rematch of the 2023 game against the Portland Timbers from last season. The two teams ended in a 1-1 draw.

Fast-forward to today where the Boys in Blue looked to bounce back from two straight losses to open the 2024 season. Players like Santiago Rodríguez stepped up, but a tactical mistake led to two late goals from Portland for NYCFC’s first-ever home opener loss in club history.   

Here are three things we learned from the match between NYCFC and Portland.    

Three things we learned from NYCFC's 2-1 loss to Portland  

1. It might be time to bench Mounsef Bakrar

Mounsef Bakrar has now gone scoreless in three matches and is beginning to be a problem for the attack. Despite all five of his shots hitting the target, they failed to go to the back of the net, with one of his goals disallowed due to being offside.  

Is this a dry spell or is Bakrar not fit for the role as striker for NYCFC? He scored three goals in 10 matches in 2023 but has not proven that he can lead the team in goals. It may be time for Nick Cushing to put in Jovan Mijatović in the Starting XI for a change of pace in the attack.

2. Nick Cushing’s substitutions aren’t working 

It seems like every time Cushing makes changes, it backfires very quickly. NYCFC had the lead for most of the match, so he chose to take off an attacking player from Hannes Wolf, for a defensive midfielder in Justin Haak. The one less player in the attack was the downfall, as 17 minutes later Portland scored the equalizer.   

This also explains why NYCFC cannot finish matches. What makes the defeat worse is it occurred on their home turf, which they hardly ever lose on. A better choice would have been to keep Wolf and bring on Malachi Jones for Andrés Perea, adding an attacking player while keeping four defenders and a defensive midfielder in the back.   

3. NYCFC can score goals (to an extent) 

It was very worrisome watching the first two matches of the season, not seeing a goal for the side. However, it looked like they just needed to return home to get back into their offensive groove. Rodríguez opened the scoring with a cheeky shot into the corner of the net after a brilliant attacking run from the midfield.  

The only thing missing now is a striker that can get goals in the back of the net for NYCFC. Outside of Bakrar, it seems to be that Rodríguez is the only player who can take decent shots on target, but the midfield line looks to be connecting better since the start of the season, which is always a good sign.