Northern Exposure: NYCFC and Canada

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HARRISON, NJ -JUNE 06: Head Coach Patrick Vieira of New York City FC looks on prior to the start of the 2017 Hunt Lamar U.S. Open soccer match between New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC at Red Bull Arena on June 6, 2017 in Harrison, New Jersey. The New York Red Bulls won the match with a score of 1 to 0. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

It’s possible, I suppose, that losing to Vancouver was a good thing. Maybe going into an international break you like the opportunity to take two weeks to remind yourself, day in and day out, that you can’t take anything for granted in this league. Or maybe you like having fourteen days to prepare for a Toronto side that’s as difficult this season as it was last season. Or just maybe you think that going into the transfer window playing your worst match of the season will make the summer that much more exciting. I don’t know. But here are a few things I do know as I spent the past couple of weeks thinking about NYCFC and Canada.

So they finally lost in Canada.

Until Yordy Reyna slotted that goal past Eirik Johansen in the 87th minute, City had won every regular season match NYCFC and Canada had played north of the border. Oh well, all good things must come to an end.

And speaking of Yordy Reyna

Holy mackeral. That kid’s the real deal. Where the hell did he come from and can NYCFC please not face him again? Someone in Europe pick him up. I’ll provide cab fare to the airport and help him pack.

If you have to lose, lose to Vancouver

No one likes losing, but if NYCFC have to lose one match out of the next five, I’ll take one to a non-conference team over one NYCFC are fighting for a playoff spot with. Of course, there’s no guarantee that just because NYCFC lost to Vancouver they WON’T lose to Toronto, Chicago, or the Red Bulls. There should be, but there isn’t.

Even though they lost, they kind of got lucky

Anybody watch the first round of the Gold Cup? Did you notice the communication between Canadian national teammates Alphonso Davies and Marcel DeJong, both of whom were missing from NYCFC’s match with Vancouver? And did you think about how much worse the score would have been if they’d been on the pitch together? After Canada’s first game against French Guiana I asked Marcel De Jong about that communication and why it hasn’t translated into more points for the Whitecaps. “Just not lucky I guess.”

And they’re going to get lucky again

If they’d played Toronto FC when they played Vancouver, NYCFC would have faced Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. But because those two were called up by Bruce Arena for the second round of the Gold Cup, they don’t. And NYCFC wouldn’t have had Sean Johnson in goal – who was recently released by the USMNT, ostensibly to make room for Jesse Gonzalez. Plus Toronto will still be without Justin Morrow on the back line and Jonathan Osorio in the midfield. All that considerably levels the playing field for round 2 of NYCFC and Canada.

Maxi Moralaz got some minutes

Fans of NYCFC hadn’t seen Frasquito on the pitch since the first half of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against the New York Red Bulls on June 14th. Yes, Patrick Vieira held him off until the 75th minute, but that still gave him enough real time minutes to shake off the dust. And that, combined with the international break, should have him in fine form for the match against Toronto.

As did RJ Allen

Which also helps since it looks like Ronald Matarrita is done for a while so having some help on the back line lends some valuable stability. Plus, with Rodney Wallace helping Costa Rica make a run in the Gold Cup, having another foot to provide some service to David Villa and Jack Harrison is very useful. And finally, RJ brings some brass to the team, and they’re going to need that in the coming matches.

No one got hurt

Sure, sure, Yangel Hererra was subbed off in the 53rd minute, but better safe than sorry. And he looks fine to start against Toronto. And while Alex Ring initially looked a bit banged up on that goal in the third minute, Helsinki’s favorite son is made of concrete and still managed to play a full ninety. Which is great, because honestly, the opportunity to watch him and Sebastian Giovinco go toe-to-toe is something no one should miss.

But wait there’s more

But if you do miss it, don’t worry, NYCFC and Canada will face off again on July 30th. When the Gold Cup will over and everyone will be back to full strength. And won’t that be fun?

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