New York City FC's busy week at home continued on Wednesday as they welcomed league leaders FC Cincinnati at Yankee Stadium. At the end of 90 minutes and some change, the boys in blue suffered their back-to-back 3-1 loss, extending their winless skid to six games in Major League Soccer.
While Cincinnati is undeniably the top team for a reason, the Pigeons' chances also battled poor officiating. A fiery Nick Cushing entered the press conference postgame and immediately addressed Armando Villareal's decision-making.
"I can debate it in many many ways," Cushing stated. "But I will say it like this; the referee's performance was embarrassing."
Like their previous game against Philadelphia, Gabriel Pereira struck first around the 30-minute mark. The ball hit the net behind a southpaw volley, the lights at the stadium flashed, and the crowd celebrated in unison with the team. However, Villareal rained on NYCFC's parade by disallowing the goal for an alleged foul before the strike.
NYCFC lost the second home game in a row
An improvised lineup for NYCFC continued to play well despite conceding the first goal in the 38th minute from Luciano Acosta. The Pigeons controlled about 53% percent of possession in the first half. They threaded passes through a sea of orange but failed to finish their nine crosses.
The intensity picked up after the intermission, and the debatable decisions kept working against the home side. Cincinnati would find the net two more times in the 59th and 70th. A freekick right outside the box from Álvaro Barreal and a penalty kick from Brandon Vazquez--though stained with the referee's handprints-- were successfully converted. Braian Cufré scored his first goal for NYCFC in the 64th minute, but it served more as a consolation prize for their effort.
Cushing praised the fight from his team.
"They showed everything that we asked. This team has been reflecting on performance, moments, the good and the bad, for many weeks now. We were disappointed in those moments collectively. Tonight, what you saw was a team that was fighting for our football club and competing against a big team."- Nick Cushing
Though an undeniably poor performance from the official was a culprit for this loss, the frustration from the fanbase is reeking from the stands. Contrary to Cushing's statements, a significant portion of the fanbase demands more effort from the men on the pitch.
At the end of it, Wednesday was a remix of Saturday's episode. The Pigeons played the Bronx crowd a modified version of the setlist they performed in Queens just days prior. They switched up the order, played louder, and were in perfect harmony but could not hit the notes that mattered.
Plus, at the end of regulation, Villareal gave away a total of 11 yellow cards, seven of them to NYCFC players. Cushing was confident his team could have come away with all three points, and expressed the need to continue fighting.
"Ultimately, [if] we play this game 100 more times with a better referee, we will win it 100 times. It is difficult to support a team that isn't getting results, and I appreciate the support. This will turn for us, and we will continue to fight on."- Nick Cushing
The Pigeons get one more chance to turn their fate at home before heading out on the road. New York City FC will host the New England Revolution at Yankee Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 PM EST.