On Saturday evening, New York City FC had the pressure on their shoulders when they played against D.C. United. The Pigeons knew they had to win and take all three points to keep their playoff hopes alive. While the likelihood of making the playoffs was slim going into the game, the team still had to win.
In addition, D.C. was playing their final game of the season. While they would likely not make the playoffs regardless of the result, the home side wanted to win their last match in front of their fans.
For a slight moment, it felt like NYCFC might have a chance. The Starting XI was unchanged. Talles Magno was healthy to start, and Matt Freese remains the number-one goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, the road woes continued in the final away fixture of the season. NYCFC lost to D.C. United, 2-0. The home team is eliminated from the playoffs due to other results and the fact they finished the regular season, but the Queens side had to wait to find out whether they were still in contention. Charlotte FC's win kept them alive... for now.
NYCFC falls to D.C. United and puts the playoffs in jeopardy
New York City FC started the game off slowly. They barely held onto the possession and often lost the ball via interceptions and dispossessions. But after about 15 minutes, the team started to get into the match. The Pigeons still looked slightly shaky though. D.C. continued to dominate as well.
Moreover, D.C. scored twice in the first third of the match. However, both goals were ruled offside. This included the controversial offside call on Chris Durkin. He scored a screamer of a goal, but it was difficult to see who was responsible to call it a no-goal.
In some ways, NYCFC was lucky the Black-and-Red did not get the goals. Nonetheless, that did not matter. D.C. went on top toward the end of the first half. The team had a free kick, which led to a shot from Steven Birnbaum. The ball hit the crossbar and fell to Mateusz Klich’s feet. He sent the rebound into the goal, breaking the hearts of the Pigeons.
The second half was not any better, for D.C. scored again in the 62nd minute. A defensive mishap by Birk Risa saw him head the ball right to Durkin. The NYCFC defender then slipped, and this allowed the midfielder to easily make his short run into the box. With a slick shot, he put the ball past Freese.
Notably, the Bronx team did increase their chances in the attack. They also played better in the second half. They ended the 90 minutes with over 52% of the possession. Also, they outshot D.C. 20 to 14. But they could not find a way to put the ball into the back of the net. This was a common theme throughout their time on the road in 2023. Therefore, the loss, while disappointing, was not a shock.
Of course, this was not the outcome NYCFC wanted and needed. The playoff hopes were dangling off a cliff before the fixture. The loss in Washington D.C. caused the hope to be hanging on by a mere finger. In addition, the draw against Inter Miami CF the previous week did not help either.
New York City FC will have the international break off before Decision Day 2023. The Pigeons will host Chicago Fire FC and have to win to even have any chance at making the playoffs. Alas, the movement of teams around them should see them eliminated regardless of a win.