On Saturday evening, New York City FC traveled to Canada to see their former captain, Sean Johnson, and his Toronto FC. It was the first time the team faced their former goalkeeper, and in some ways it was bittersweet. It is nice Luis Barraza is finally getting his chance, but Johnson was loved by the fans. Of course, any other time, he is deemed a legend. Still, during those 90 minutes, he was part of the opposition.
Unfortunately, the Pigeons were without Gabriel Pereira, who missed the match due to a lower body injury. Instead, Nick Cushing put out a lineup that had Matías Pellegrini as the right winger. Kevin O’Toole was also in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Additionally, the head coach went with Santiago Rodríguez up front and center again, playing in the false nine/ striker position. Although, the final third players all had the room to move around.
NYCFC was on the road too, so the question of whether they could find success away from home still lingered as the team went into the game. Playing in Toronto has always been a difficult task as well, regardless of how the home team was playing that season.
In the end, NYCFC had a poor performance, and lost to what was supposed to be a struggling Toronto FC. The final score was 1-0, and it was very disappointing after a solid and great win against FC Dallas last week.
NYCFC falls to Toronto after a poor performance
Before the match could start for New York City FC, a fire alarm that was going off in the stadium caused about a 20 minute delay. It was an interesting way to start the fixture, but it fits with the craziness that occurs with most meetings between the two sides. But in all honesty, that would be the most thrilling part of the evening.
The majority of the game was lackluster and dull. NYCFC slightly led in the possession, but it was the Reds that led in the shooting, for they outshot the visitors 11 to five, and then six to one with shots on target. The Pigeons looked lost, it felt most of the passing occurred between the backline and defensive midfield
In the attack, it was clear Rodríguez was to be in the false nine/ center forward position. This time around, he, Pellegrini, Richard Ledezma, and Talles Magno were constantly switching and all over the final third. Yes, there was switching in the match against Dallas, but this time there was too much switching. This limited the ability to create an attacking rhythm, and aided Toronto with their defense.
Moreover, Magno and Rodríguez found themselves falling deeper into the midfield throughout the game. That was somewhat hurtful on some counter-attack attempts, for there were less players in the final third.
The second half saw the nail in the coffin, for CJ Sapong scored for Toronto right at the start of the half. Poor defending by O’Toole, a lapse in the defense in front of goal, and a good touch by the striker put the Pigeons behind and the Reds in front. As everyone knows, that would be the winning goal.
NYCFC was outplayed by Toronto, who was the better team
As the match went on, New York City FC could not figure things out. The substitutions Cushing made did not help either, in which he only made two. Johnson barely had to defend against his former team, for his teammates limited the attacking chances. Their formation and pressuring tactics could not be broken down, and that is why players like Magno could not find the back of the net, let alone the opportunity to score.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo Insigne was extremely problematic for the Bronx side. He was consistently a threat, both on goal and service into the box, and could not be stopped. Mitja Ilenič, who has mostly played very well, could not stop the Italian. Insigne left him in the dust way too many times, and probably gave the Slovenian his worst game of the season.
If there is one bright light from the match, then it would be Barraza. With the exception of the goal, which in all honesty was the fault of the backline, he had a superb performance. He had five saves on the night, and was alert and aware. There is no doubt that Toronto would have had another goal or two if he was not on his A-game.
Overall, it was another poor road performance. If kryptonite incapacitates Superman, then the away fixtures are the Pigeons’ kryptonite. Again, this was extremely disappointing, especially since the Reds’ recent form easily could have led to a win for the Pigeons. However, they had to play the same way they play at home. Plus, it has to be said that Toronto was the better team, and they got the job done.
These night and day performances are concerning, but maybe this poor loss is exactly what was needed. Road woes have been a common theme for New York City FC over the last few seasons though, so who knows whether they can figure things out.