NYCFC on the road: Is it mental or tactics?

NYCFC / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC has not been great on the road to start the 2023 season.  In fact, looking back at the last few years, the team has not been good at all.  Now, they have won road matches and grabbed some draws, but the away fixtures have been testing them for some time. Some of the wins, based on how the team played, even felt lucky.

As such, what is the reason for the struggles away from home, especially in 2023?  Is it the coach or the players?  What about both?  Is the mentality different on the road?  Does Cushing utilize different tactics that are just not working?  It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason, but likely it is a mix of things. 

NYCFC has not been good on the road, but why?

For starters, the New York City FC players themselves are just not playing to their potential away from home.  Supporters know what each player is capable of, and for many, there is quite a bit of room for growth overall.  But no matter what changes Cushing makes throughout a fixture, it does not matter.  It is like there is a wall that keeps the team from not only the urgency to score, but the ability do so.

It has to be said though that the team has been solid defensively.  Take the Toronto FC match as an example.  The Reds only scored once, and could not get another thanks to the work of Luis Barraza between the sticks, and his backline.  In some ways, it can be argued the team is still putting in the work on the defensive end, but rather the rest of the game is terrible on the road. 

It is unlikely Cushing utilizes different tactics on the road as well.  Rather, it is about who NYCFC is facing no matter where they are playing.  Teams always have to play to win, and to purposely play differently on the road would not be a good look.  That is why it might be more of a failure of tactics, and the failures just happen to occur while the Bronx team is away from home.

This makes some wonder whether there is a mental aspect to the hardships this season.  To be honest, it would not be surprising if this was somehow a large part of the poor performances away from New York City.  Over the last few seasons, NYCFC has struggled on the road, so perhaps this has entered the minds of the players, and that was why the Pigeons have been playing so poorly in 2023.  There could also be other elements impacting the mental part of the game too.

Next. NYCFC: A look at Nick Cushing’s post-Toronto loss comments. dark

New York City FC has to figure out why the team is struggling so much on the road.  Why is this happening?  Supporters can only infer why, but when all is said and done, only the team can know the why, and what is needed to fix this.