NYCFC and Atlanta draw again after a solid performance with goal-scoring struggles

  • NYCFC and Atlanta United played one another on Saturday
  • The Pigeons struggled again in the goal-scoring department
  • As such, the match ended in a 1-1 draw
Mounsef Bakrar of NYCFC
Mounsef Bakrar of NYCFC / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in 2024, New York City FC made their way to Queens to play at Citi Field.  Their other home venue was being utilized since the Yankees were playing in the Bronx.  It was also the start of their five-game homestand, a period where the pressure to get wins will be extremely high.

Despite the scoring issues, Nick Cushing went with a slightly changed Starting XI, with Kevin O’Toole and Birk Risa returning to the lineup. In addition, the head coach kept last weekend’s goal-scorer, Alonso Martínez, in the attack. 

Meanwhile, before the game, Hudson River Blue reported Jovan Mijatović was out due to visa issues and was still in Serbia.  This is slightly puzzling since the striker has already been with the club and should have no visa issues since he has been in the United States and played in matches.  The lack of transparency on this and the way the club has handled certain matters over the last year is just creating more rumors and conspiracies.

Nonetheless, the update did not shadow the match against Atlanta.  However, in a must-win game, NYCFC and Atlanta shared the points.  The 1-1 score does not reflect the performance on the pitch, but it did highlight the goal-scoring woes.

NYCFC and Atlanta United drew 1-1 

NYCFC got on the scoresheet first thanks to a penalty kick given up late in the first half.  Santiago Rodríguez was fouled in the box when Tristan Muyumba made enough contact to send the midfielder to the ground.  It clearly interfered with his run and goal-scoring chance, but was a common foul. 

As such, in the 43rd minute, Rodríguez stepped up to take the penalty kick.  He sent Atlanta's goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the other direction and put the ball into the back of the net.

However, as fans know, sometimes all it takes is one moment in a game for the other side to make a difference in a game.  This one moment led the visitors to tie the match in the 65th minute.  Guzan sent a pass from his goalkeeper area right into NYCFC’s side of the pitch.  A solid run from Edwin Mosquera allowed him to send the ball right to Jamal Thiaré, who scored for the Five Stripes.  It was brilliant football, and Freese could not do anything about the shot.

Nonetheless, Freese still had a solid game.  The goalkeeper was critical in the first half, keeping Atlanta out of the goal.  After the 90 minutes, he had five saves for the second game in a row.  Truthfully, who knows where the Pigeons would be without him.

Arguably, when excluding shots on target, NYCFC was the better side.  They were threatening but failed to capitalize or get the ball on target for most of the match.  They had 23 shots, but only two on target.  Mounsef Bakrar was one of the players who should have put the ball into the back of the net.  The striker has a high work rate and even had six shots on the night.  Yet, his struggles continued.  He did well on the ball, but since he is supposed to score the goals, it is deemed by many as another failure.

The defense was also solid again.  Risa certainly made a difference in the backline, James Sands was superb as long as he did not go forward, and Tayvon Gray had no issue dealing with Atlanta players on his side of the pitch.  Plus, the right-back had a strong night on the offensive end, for he played higher up the pitch and got the ball into the box.

In the end, it was another disappointing result.  The Pigeons should have had a few more goals.  Alas, the inability to score gave Atlanta the chance to steal a point in Queens.  This was not the ideal way to start the homestand; NYCFC has to score.  So, why are the players not scoring?