The Man in Seat 9: An Uninspired New York City FC Falls to Portland

New York City FC falls to Portland
Photo Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports. Apr 22, 2018; Portland, OR, USA; New York City forward Jo Inge Berget (9) kicks the ball as he is defended by Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala (33) during the first half at Providence Park. The Timbers won 3-0.

EDITORIAL (April 22, 2018) It’s a far fall when your wings of wax melt. In one of the best soccer venues in Major League Soccer, under bright spring sunshine, and on a horrible pitch — you will never get me to like or support FieldTurf — an uninspired New York City FC falls to Portland Timbers in a disappointing 3-0 loss.

Uninspired New York City FC Falls to Portland

In the myth of Icarus, his father warns him of the dangers of complacency and hubris. In Portland yesterday, the Boys in Blue failed to heed that warning and lost their first match of the season. Only one of the three Portland goals was scored on pure merit. The first, coming from Sebastian Blanco in the 27th minute, was a failure of Sean Johnson. A soft arcing cross to the back post, Johnson and Alexander Callens looked at each other as the ball crossed between them and into the net. Although Callens was there, this is a ball that the Keeper should always call for and take. Johnson, who has been brilliant so far this season, blew the play.

In the 37th minute, Johnson got a hand on a hard cross from Diego Valeri. Fanendo Adi was not marked well on the back post and put the rebound in for the second goal.
The third goal was a well-placed header from Larrys Mabiala in the 66th off of a set piece. Let it be said here and now that the Man in Seat 9 passionately does not like zone coverage on set pieces.

Portland Manager Figures Out NYCFC’s Weakness.

Giovanni Savarese did his research and used the main weakness in the City System as the key to ending the unbeaten start to NYCFC’s season. He did what New England and San Jose attempted to do but failed. He used City’s high press and possession play, against them while keeping the defense tight and compact in the Timber’s own third.
The City system is a three-legged stool — possession, a high press, and a dangerous attack. It’s a given that a quick team like Portland will capitalize on the high press and score with quick counters. The balance to that is that NYCFC will create and convert more opportunities than their opponent. Take out that attack and you get a result we had in Portland.

Uninspired, Sloppy Play.

Maybe it was coming out of last weeks bruiser in Atlanta with a road point. Maybe it was being unbeaten and facing a team lower on the table. Maybe it was the slowness of the newly installed FieldTurf. Whatever the reason the Boys in Blue appeared complacent and sloppy. Passes were a few steps off and lacking pace. Players failed to pass with urgency. A few flare-ups of brilliance appeared in the second half, but they quickly died. The defense failed to mark attackers at the back post, the midfield failed to transition quickly to attack, and the attack could not get creative enough to test the Timber’s defense. It doesn’t matter how much possession you have if you can’t create scoring chances. A draw is the best you will get.

Maybe this is the loss we deserved when we needed it. Maybe it will be a wake-up call for NYCFC to eradicate complacency. Maybe we will have learned to fly not too close to the ground and not too close to the sun. The match against FC Dallas will tell us.

The Match GB&U

The Good

  • We’re still in first place.

The Bad

  • Started sloppy, stayed sloppy. Passes just a bit off.
  • Rodney Wallace’s pace. Again.
  • Not winning second balls.
  • Defensive communication.

The Ugly

  • Sean Johnson not taking the ball on the play with Callens.
  • Unmarked attackers in the sixteen.
  • Transitioning to the attack.
  • FieldTurf. Again.

Patrick Vieira

Our gaffer is supposedly on the short list to replace Arsene Wenger at the Arsenal helm. I don’t think he’ll be offered the position and if offered I don’t think that he should accept the post. Here’s why:

  1. He’s still in the middle of setting up the foundation of NYCFC so that it can continue to grow and evolve. That means seeing the transition of David Villa from on the field to eventual retirement and a team that doesn’t rely as heavily on their captain as they have in the past. This year is a good example of that with Villa missing major matches while the rest of the team picked up the responsibility and scoring.
  2. City Football Group went to great lengths to keep Stoke City acquiring Jack Harrison. That was for a Winger on a lower level opponent. Think of the lengths that they will go to to keep PV from running the Gunners.
  3. Vieira is a smart man. I think he, first, knows he’s not quite ready for a jump to the Prem, and second, realizes that whoever takes that position is setting themselves for failure. Following a legend like Wenger is a huge pressure. If the team doesn’t turn around quickly, Arsenal Fan TV will explode again. And Arsenal’s problems are more than managerial.

That all being said, if he is offered the position, it would surprise me if he turned it down.

Stadium Update

Think of this as a non-update update. Of course, you have seen the plans that were leaked to the developer’s blog YIMBY.  They are some pretty advanced plans for an NYCFC home at the developing Harlem River Yards. The Man in Seat 9 would suggest taking these plans with a large grain of salt. There are a couple more options in play, and requests for comment from the club have gone unanswered. This all sounds like a political move with New York State, who owns the property, to leverage pressure on the City with regards to the other site options.

See you next week at home in the Bronx where David Villa should score his 400th career goal!


The Man in Seat 9

Photo Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports. Apr 22, 2018; Portland, OR, USA; New York City forward Jo Inge Berget (9) kicks the ball as he is defended by Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala (33) during the first half at Providence Park. The Timbers won 3-0.


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