To begin their difficult four game road trip, NYCFC started with their toughest opponent: FC Dallas. They boast a team full of young homegrowns and designated players, and a stadium that is difficult to win in. If you had asked me before the game, I would have been very happy with a draw, which is what NYCFC got. FC Dallas took the lead through a Kellyn Acosta goal, but NYCFC equalized in the 68th minute with a Tommy McNamara hustle goal. With that in mind, here are five key statistics that shaped the outcome. (All statistics from WhoScored)
NYCFC vs. FC Dallas: Five Key Statistics
FC Dallas’s game plan was to shut down Maxi Moralez, in order to limit NYCFC from playing out of the back. They also were very aggressive, fouling him three times. Moralez is the fifth most fouled player in MLS, averaging 2.7 fouls per game. The aggressiveness troubled Moralez, and he seemed visibly frustrated. However, being the veteran, professional player he is, he bounced back. He played one accurate cross and two accurate long balls. Other players need to step up when Moralez is under pressure.
Tommy McNamara: A Tale of Two Halves
On FC Dallas’s goal, McNamara failed to close down Maximiliano Urruti, which allowed him to pass it to Acosta. McNamara offers more offensively than Yangel Herrera, but offers less than him defensively. However, in the second half, McNamara was buzzing around the pitch, breaking up the FC Dallas attack. He was rewarded for his efforts when he scored off a David Villa free kick. The free kick hit the bar, and McNamara crashed the box, even taking a kick in the back from Matt Hedges. McNamara needs to improve his consistency, and be more active defensively.
Sean Johnson made four big saves, keeping NYCFC in the match. There was nothing he could do on FC Dallas’s goal. Johnson has been improving every match. He also was solid in distribution with 66% accuracy on 35 passes and five accurate long balls. Johnson can always improve his distribution, but he kept the ball out of the net, which is the goalies chief responsibility.
17 Defensive Actions
Maxime Chanot was excellent in defense, with 17 defensive actions (two tackles, one interception, 13 clearances, one blocked shot). Chanot’s aerial presence is a perfect complement to Alex Callens one-on-one abilities. At 6’1″, he isn’t the tallest player, but he has the ability to control the box in the air. As long as he dominates aerially, teams will struggle to convert on set pieces and crosses.
With the absence of Andrea Pirlo, David Villa has been taking the free kicks. Last night, he did this:
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) May 15, 2017
Even though the shot didn’t go in, it was very close. His shot also froze Jesse Gonzalez, and gave Tommy McNamara the ability to clean up the rebound. When Pirlo returns, Villa needs to continue to take free kicks. Frankly, Pirlo has had his chance and failed, so it is someone else’s turn now. NYCFC are lucky to have two world-class free kick takers.