Editorial (April 11, 2018) — After two matches away from the Bronx, the Boys in Blue returned home to take on Real Salt Lake. The day was one of those blue-sky early spring days warm enough to make having a beer overlooking warm-ups one of those quintessential NYCFC moments. At that time and space, there was no place else you would rather be. Perfection. I would like to say that the crowd was buzzing. Excited and a bit nervous to see if the team would continue their unbeaten run. But, before the match, there was no crowd. The Wednesday night match, combined with a D train switch failure below 59th street, kept the fans away until 15 minutes into the first half. But the Boys in Blue, or a bluish-gray, did not disappoint.
The Man in Seat 9: NYCFC Keeps It Real in the Bronx
On Wednesday night, New York City FC destroyed RSL in a 4-0 clinic in the proper attack against a bunkered defense. Without David Villa and Alexander Ring — until both joined in the second half — NYCFC used the other arrows in their quiver to end the first half with a commanding 3-0 lead. They added one more in the second half to beat RSL for the first time in their history. And they did it with ease. It was the most relaxed that the Man in Seat 9 has ever been at an NYCFC match. It was almost boring. Almost. Except for the fact that it was some very well played football.
Shark Suits and Blood in the Water
Tonight, for the first time, the team sported their new alternate kit. A sort of blueish-gray kit that as the night wore on, and as they swarmed RSL when they touched the ball, reminded the Man in Seat 9 as feeding sharks who sensed blood in the water. From here on out, I will refer to those kits as the shark suits. NYCFC swarmed, placed themselves in position to pick up sloppy balls, and continued to attack until the 92nd minute. And again, played the majority of the game without Villa. This makes me increasingly happy. Next season, or the next, when the captain retires, has always given me pause. He is such a force on the pitch. Now, after watching the past three matches, I can say that I think we will be all right. He is our everything, but he isn’t our only thing.
Other Teams, Take Note
An aggressive, high-press defense works well against NYCFC. What doesn’t? Parking the bus, absorbing the attack, and looking for a counter attack. The New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes were tough matches because they tried to keep the Boys in Blue in their own half. Real Salt Lake just got schooled doing the opposite.
- Beating Real Salt Lake. This was a match we would have squandered last season.
- Again getting a result without the starting team. The result was in the books before David
- Villa and Alexander Ring came on in substitutions.
- Sean Johnson. How many weeks am I going to write this?
- Attacking until the end. Playing the system no matter the score on the board.
- Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, again. Another game, another goal.
- A light attendance for the first half.
- Maxi Moralez leaning back and skying a gimmie goal.
- Still concerned about the match fitness of Jo Inge Berget, even though he did score his first goal for the side.
- Real Salt Lake. Why do they get the Real designation anyway? I don’t remember Salt Lake ever being the seat of the throne.
- Mark Geiger, again. He really will need to improve not to embarrass the league at the World Cup. Mark, players can’t catch the ball with their hands, and when the player hurt is on the same team that is making an attack, you play advantage.
The Team Takes on Atlanta This Sunday
I think one of the biggest matches of the season will be this Sunday against the Five Stripes in Atlanta United. This match will show if we are the real deal. Going into Atlanta, with all of their rabid fans, against an explosive team, after playing a mid-week match, will surely test the team’s fitness. Both mentally and physically. Especially since they have the pressure to remain unbeaten. The Man in Seat 9 is feeling cautiously confident.
Again, crickets. Third week in a row. Crickets.
Standing bar under the Megatron: Official Food Vendor
Food: Best Buy in the stadium. Double cheeseburger on an actual grill.
Beer: Craft beer on tap. The standards in bottles.
Vibe: Great place to watch warm-ups
The Man in Seat 9
Apr 11, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC defender Ronald Matarrita (22) reacts during the second half against Real Salt Lake at Yankee Stadium. New York City FC defeated Real Salt Lake 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports