Embarrassing. That is the only word to describe the pathetic display of “soccer” by NYCFC tonight at BMO Field in Toronto. The win-less streak continues for the Pigeons as they were defeated by Toronto FC 4-0 in a first class clown pounding that City supporters are far to used to seeing on the pitch.
City were proverbially dunked on by everyone on Toronto, specifically U.S forward Jozy Altidore and newly acquired Spanish midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo. There are no positives coming out of this for City who have eight days to regroup and get their stuff together for a Saturday afternoon matinee against the Montreal Impact at Yankee Stadium.
City were lucky not to concede a goal in the eighth minute as VAR overturned a goal that was ruled to be offside, but that was no matter as the Toronto midfield, led by Michael Bradley and Pozuelo tore open the City defense with a string of passes that ended with Jozy Altidore alone in front of the net for an easy finish just a few minutes later. It might’ve been a good idea for any player on the back line to defend instead of throwing their arms up claiming Altidore was offside when he clearly wasn’t but alas that wasn’t the case. Sean Johnson was even appealing to the referee before the ball crossed the net. For a back four that has played together for the better part of two years the lack of communication and just basic fundamental defending is a massive concern for City which is the first of many going forward.
After conceding the first goal the Pigeons settled down but there was zero creativity on the offensive side of the pitch. They could barely string any passes together and anytime they had a semblance of space that might have led to a chance, there was either a heavy touch, mishit, or just a horrid pass that ended the possession and Toronto was right there to attack aggressively on the counter. City was also without midfielder Maxi Moralez, who the club claimed that he had picked up a knock in training this week. This also came after City claimed that everyone was healthy going in to this match. The lack of transparency is extremely infuriating for both the supporters and media and there’s no point in blatantly lying in that matter. His absence was a gigantic hole in the midfield that no one can replicate leading to zero offensive flashes. TFC had another goal disallowed in the first half because of offside and somehow it was only a 1-0 lead for Toronto at halftime.
Shortly after the second half began, City showed some life when Jesus Medina had a shot go off the goal post and the rebound was saved away, but that was all for naught as several minutes later, Alex Callens tugged on Jozy Altidore’s shirt in the penalty box and Altidore soared through the air like a superhero mid-flight. It was a comical and frankly pathetic display of embellishment by Altidore but ultimately it was a penalty after another look from VAR. Pozuelo stepped up to the spot and calmly but it past Johnson with a “Panenka” style penalty kick which is a soft strike right down the middle of net that floats in the air while the keeper is sprawled out on either side of the net. It’s a very cheeky style of taking a PK and when executed correctly it is always a horrible look for the goalie.
Pozuelo wasn’t done however as in the 78th minute while the City “defense” gave him more space than Julie Andrews had spinning in the hills of Austria in the beginning of “The Sound of Music” scored a highlight reel goal for a brace when as he received the ball just inside the box and with his left foot unleashed a stunningly gorgeous chip or scoop that arched over everyone including Johnson before it came down just underneath the crossbar extending Toronto’s lead to three. Full credit should go to Pozuelo he was clearly man of the match with the brace and a pretty assist to Altidore for the first goal, he was the difference maker and there was no one in blue that was even a tenth of his quality tonight. Jay Chapman added a fourth goal five minutes later and by then it was all over but the crying.
Supporters of City are used to stinkers like this however, 4-0 tonight, 4-0 last May in Harrison, NJ against the arch nemesis Red Bulls, 3-1 over two playoff legs against Atlanta United in 2018, 4-1 in the first playoff leg against the Columbus Crew in 2017 and of course the infamous 7-0 thrashing at Yankee Stadium against the Red Bulls. Not to mention the 7-0 clown pounding in the postseason of 2016 delivered by the same team that walloped City tonight. Games like this happen to every team, but it happens far too often for City, who is too talented to play this poorly. Even without Moralez that performance is unequivocally and absolutely unacceptable in every way. No player or person in the organization can honestly look themselves in the eye and say they did a good job tonight in Toronto.
Dating back to the 2018 regular season, City have won only four of their twenty matches, that is a terrifying statistic and shows how far from grace the Pigeons have fallen since Patrick Vieira’s cowardly departure to OGC Nice mid-season last year. It’s understandable that there would be an adjustment period but now Domenec Torrent has been here for nearly a year now and had the second half of last year and a whole off-season and training camp to accomplish what he wants in a club and the results aren’t there, not by a long shot. It has come to the breaking point now where most, if not all City supporters want Torrent sacked from the position. If he wasn’t on thin ice before, he must be now with zero wins and only four goals in the first month of the season. You can’t win a championship or qualify for the playoffs in March, but you can certainly lose those things early and that is looking more and more likely as City continues to fail with flying colors.
City was without their newest addition Héber has he was still awaiting his visa. However he had just flown in to JFK this morning from Brazil so one would assume his paperwork is done and dusted but there was no way he was going to make it to Toronto and play with no training with the club. Hopefully he will make an appearance on the 6th and make an impact against the Impact but there is no guarantee on that front. But having a pure striker will be massive for everyone in blue that afternoon and others going forward. Something needs to be done about the shambolic defending and the lackadaisical attacking, it’s so bizarre to see the experienced defense who have boatloads of chemistry play this horribly to start the season.
There is no player that can take anything positive from tonight and there are more questions than answers after that putrid display of “soccer”. Where will the goals come from? Can this defense stop anybody? Why hasn’t Keaton Parks seen any significant playing time this season? The list goes on and on and it’s unclear if any of these things will be answered soon. However some things are clear, Taty Castellanos is not a good player and shouldn’t be in the regular rotation, Jesus Medina has horrendous value taking up a DP slot and providing barely anything in the offensive third, and this team has a massive lack of heart. That hurts to say especially when the captain Alex Ring exemplifies nothing but intensity and heart, but the rest of the team hasn’t followed suit.
There are too many blowouts with the same core that’s been here, and in a few hours if not already all of the stupid Instagram posts will come flying in from the players. All with the same caption along the lines of “Tough result, we’ll be better next time. Thanks to the away support.” and it’s known and probably encouraged to say something but that message rings hollow after bad result and bad result. The supporters don’t care about that or how cool the clothes that the players wear or how stylish they are or any of that worldly garbage that the club promotes on social media. They care about very little things, results, winning, making the playoffs, and lastly, building a soccer specific stadium within the five boroughs of New York City. The way things are going now, none of these things are eminent and the attendance numbers are dropping and dropping every season and it’s easy to see why.
Personally, I love this club and I always will, they have me, I made this point to CEO Brad Sims in a drunken rant at a season ticket holder event before the season started. But they are rapidly losing interest from the casual fanbase in a city that is filled with soccer fans from every race, religion, and creed. Yankee Stadium should be sold out for every game, but this team has been a massive failure for the most part since their arrival into MLS in 2015. A lot of this is extremely hyperbolic but it’s mostly true, zero post season success and especially with no stadium news, it’s becoming harder and harder being a New York City Football Club supporter.
Performances like this hurt, particularly when it feels like the fans care more than certain players out on the pitch. Things have to change massively and fast to turn the tide here. The fans are restless and are starving for reasons to be proud of this team and to love this team more than they already do. I see it every match day, the bars before and after games are electric and there are songs and chants throughout most of the supporter’s section as well as the adjacent ones where I sit. Imagining that passion in a beautiful stadium in New York City is incredible and I’m longing for the day I sit down in a seat at that stadium, hopefully with a championship or two in tow and I can look at the team I love with a profound sense of pride.
Unfortunately, that day isn’t a certainty or even a guarantee, but for now one thing is for certain. These results can’t happen anymore, and they need goals and wins and they need them yesterday. For now there is only one word that can accurately depict the state of this club at the moment. Embarrassing.
Featured Image: mlssoccer.com