NYCFC are in third place through nine games, but have a game in hand over first place Toronto FC. Second place Orlando City SC also has a game in hand over TFC. NYCFC might struggle to get a first round bye this year, as TFC and OCSC have been playing better. Also, out of NYCFC’s three losses, two of them were to Orlando.
NYCFC First Quarter Analysis
Offensively, NYCFC scored a lot of goals. They are second in the eastern conference with 17 goals. Defensively, they have been stout, only conceding 10 goals. At this point last year, they scored four less goals, and conceded five more goals. Their defending has started with the play of their wingers, especially Rodney Wallace. It has continued all the way to their center backs, where they have had a solid pairing.
(All statistics from WhoScored unless noted)
Sean Johnson entered the NYCFC preseason camp and won the starting job from Eirik Johansen. He has helped NYCFC concede only nine goals, but several of them were not his fault. However, he has let in a couple bad goals.
In distribution, he has been very strong with 77% overall passing accuracy, 47% long ball accuracy, and 95% short pass accuracy. Not bad for someone who never has been asked to be this active in distribution. Johnson’s distribution has certainly an improvement over Josh Saunders 74% overall passing accuracy, 43% long ball accuracy, and 90% short pass accuracy.
As mentioned above, the defense has also improved this season. Maxime Chanot has slid over to right center back with the addition of Alexander Callens. Ronald Matarrita was playing well at left back before his injury. Rodney Wallace initially filled in, but did a poor job. After the failed experiment, Wallace was shifted back to the wing and Ben Sweat jumped in. He has played well, notching an assist in his first appearance. On the right side, Ethan White beat out RJ Allen after Allen was lackadaisical on defense. Allen has been noticeably absent from the matchday 18.
With the departure of Frank Lampard, many questioned how NYCFC would replace his production. Is suffices to say Maxi Moralez has exceeded expectations. He has been the heart of the attack, and has contributed more defensively than Lampard ever did. Alex Ring has also been spectacular replacing Andoni Iraola. His play is a big reason for NYCFC’s defensive strength. However, the third midfield place has been rotating between Andrea Pirlo and Yangel Herrera. Pirlo has seemingly lost a step, and has been poor defensively. With Herrera departing for the U-20 World Cup, manager Patrick Vieira will need to find a solution. Besides Pirlo, Kwame Awuah is available, and James Sands is done with the U17 World Cup. Awuah made a cameo against Atlanta United, and looked energetic. Both Awuah and Sands would add youth and energy to the NYCFC midfield.
Jack Harrison has improved from last season, while David Villa is still David Villa. Rodney Wallace has been an upgrade as a two-way winger over Tommy McNamara. McNamara is a great player and certainly shouldn’t be traded, but the issue is where to play him. If Jack Harrison gets sold in the next year, McNamara could step right in. However, NYCFC also have added depth to the front line this offseason with Jonathan Lewis, Miguel Camargo, and Ugo Okoli.
NYCFC are a much improved team, mostly due to their additions of Callens and Wallace. Also, NYCFC have depth in most positions, so an injury wouldn’t be that big an issue. Claudio Reyna has done a great job of constructing a balanced roster perfect for Vieira’s system. NYCFC need to keep up the energy and intensity, and wins will keep coming in the next three quarters.