New York City FC came home with the momentum from snapping an 11-game winless streak. After a narrow 1-0 victory in Montréal, thanks to some magic from Matías Pellegrini, sparks of hope appeared with the intent to fire up the Pigeons to finally turn their season around.
That was the mindset coming into Wednesday’s match against Charlotte FC at Citi Field. NYCFC banged and knocked on opportunity's door, continuously testing Charlotte’s Kristijan Kahlina.
The crowd and the team— it seemed— knew it was only a matter of time before their breakthrough came to the Empire State’s pleasure.
NYCFC returns to non-winning ways
Unfortunately, the breakthrough came on the wrong side of the field. Charlotte’s first shot on target was the only one they needed as Justin Haak’s defensive effort sadly led to NYCFC's early demise. While preventing a Charlotte ball from reaching its target, Haak served it on a silver platter for Orrin McKinze Gaines II, who curled it beautifully into Luis Barraza’s upper-90 in the 17th minute.
The cycle continued as the men in Blue master not closing their chances. However, their prayers were answered in the 81st minute when Braian Cufré found the net with a powerful shot from the left side of the post. The game ended in a draw after the Argentine's heroics saved the Pigeons from another loss.
Still, NYCFC outshot their visitors 21-3 and controlled 58 percent of possession, which is too much effort to leave with a stalemate. Nick Cushing expressed this after the game.
"Points-wise, it's disappointing. We want points. We want to climb up the league. This is as close to a win [as] we'll ever have, [our] best performance of the season. I'm disappointed in the goal they scored, but ultimately we'll develop and grow in this team."- Nick Cushing
Was the win in Montréal nothing but a consolation for their efforts? Although it was barely a win, it was still a misleading sign for a disappointed fanbase. Can fans count on NYCFC to start winning? Or will they keep seeing see the same act with the occasional plot twist?
You know it's bad when a team becomes so connotated with losing and tying that a win feels like a bump on the road. For a talented team, getting a win went from an expectation to wishful thinking.
Cushing referenced the players' reactions to their struggles as a good indicator of what's to come.
"The guys are disappointed. They are not content which is really positive. But at the same time, they understand what we have to do. We have to score goals and we know this. But onto Columbus now, we take a point, we take a positive [thing], and we move forward and make sure we continue to improve."- Nick Cushing
After Wednesday's result, the Pigeons are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference. New York City FC will face the Columbus Crew on Saturday, July 8, and try to rewrite the draw from their previous meeting.