Bravo for Federico Bravo, but, looking toward the playoffs, Andoni Iraola is the more important player for New York City Football Club. Perhaps as Important as Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa. Looking at the past two NYCFC matches shows us why.
Going Forward the Answer is Not Federico Bravo for Andoni Iraola
Stark Contrast in Play
In New England, NYCFC were exposed and outplayed in what could have been a blowout loss to the New England Revolution. Bravo was by no means the worst NYCFC player in that game and played with energy and drive that, on the surface, seems like everything you would want from a starting defensive midfielder. However, a look at Saturday’s 2-2 tie with western conference leader, FC Dallas, shows a different story when Andoni Iraola is on the pitch. Iraola offers patience on the ball that Bravo does not and makes the team better and more stable as a whole.
Iraola’s style of play and defensive presence of mind allows Pirlo to play with a more offensive focus and not have to track back as much to defend. He provides a solid foundation to build the attack. Pirlo, Lampard and Villa can race forward and overwhelm the defense with faith in Iraola’s distribution and control behind them. Iraola’s stability and skill with the ball at his feet give a kickstart to the NYCFC attack. Bravo simply does not have that stability as of yet. He is a younger player than Iraola by far and is still growing on the pitch. He may develop that awareness eventually but right now Iraola provides veteran presence and support that NYCFC sorely need in front of a shaky backline.
Iraola’s statistics are not flashy, but against Dallas he committed only one foul and was solid throughout. His passing percentage was excellent. He showed a presence of mind to let the attack develop and to make the simple pass rather than the flashy one. Bravo got sent off in the later part of the New England match and effectively left the team without a hope in the final minutes of that game.
To be clear, Bravo is not to blame. He is giving his all when he gets a chance, but, with an injured Maxime Chanot and now possibly Frank Lampard, NYCFC must go with the more stable Iraola going forward. It is good to have given the aging Iraola some rest, but now he is a must start for the final games at NYCFC chase a first place playoff seat.