As another match concluded at the weekend, NYCFC is still winless after another scoreless draw against the Montreal Impact and the supporter frustration is at a fever pitch now.
With four wins in their last twenty one matches dating back to July of 2018, there were audible “Dome Out” chants at the final whistle after another lifeless performance in which City played the final twenty plus minute up a man after Maximiliano Urruti was sent off in the 70th minute with assistance from VAR after a foul on Maxime Chanot. The city was unable to create anything after this moment however with zero shots after the red card, compared to before when they had 13 shots with four of those on net. Montreal did well limiting the City attack or lack thereof and essentially parked the bus while City had the ball for two-thirds of the time and couldn’t do anything with it, which has been the unfortunate trend for the Pigeons this season.
This match marked the debut of Brazilian striker Héber as he came on for the last 30 minutes and it was obvious that he has quality and has a nose for the ball, as soon as he came on he was flying everywhere in the offensive third and his shot led to City’s best chance as his shot was deflected sky high when Taty Castellanos headed it towards net and Ismael Tajouri Shradi slotted it past goalkeeper Evan Bush but the linesman had ruled that Tajouri was in an offside position. From behind the Montreal net, it did not appear that this was the case but no definitive angle was provided at Yankee Stadium or on the broadcast on YES and VAR wasn’t consulted so there isn’t much to go off on that front. After that City didn’t create anything positive and nearly conceded to a ten man Impact in stoppage time before the final whistle.
NYCFC were without midfielder Maxi Moralez a second time with a lower leg injury and also center back Alexander Callens with a hamstring issue and these injuries left the boys in blue hamstrung for sure. It was reported after the match that the initial plan was for Héber to start but on Friday in training, he rolled his ankle and couldn’t play a full ninety minutes. At full strength with everyone playing in natural positions, there’s still potential for the boys in blue to make some noise but it’s getting late early as City sit second from bottom in the eastern conference with more injury concerns and a schedule that doesn’t get easier. All of this including very questionable coaching by Domenec Torrent and this is the recipe for a bitter cocktail that doesn’t get any easier for the supporters to drink.
City’s next match is a Saturday afternoon affair in Minnesota against Minnesota United in which Minnesota will be opening their brand new soccer-specific stadium Allianz Field. The atmosphere will certainly be electric and that makes things that much more difficult for NYCFC. This particularly stings for the supporters who are starving for any positive news regarding a stadium with none in sight while a team in their third year in MLS has a brand new, beautiful and state of the art venue for soccer. Minnesota is also not the bottom feeder they’ve been in years past, winning three of their first five matches, all of which have been on the road, so they will very much be pumped up to play in front of their home supporters at their beautiful new home.
Glenn Crooks has reported this week that Héber is still nursing that rolled ankle and is a question mark for Saturday and Maxi Moralez has returned to training but still isn’t 100%. Also, Crooks said that Alex Mitriță picked up a rib injury in the second half against the Impact so these injuries are starting to pile up in positions where they can’t afford to be shorthanded. Another cog in the wheel for City is the weather, as a snowstorm just rolled through Minnesota and dumped several inches of snow and on Saturday it will be a very chilly day undoubtedly and for a team that needs everything to be pristine and perfect, this doesn’t help by any stretch. All of this combined with the emotion of the opening of Allianz Field, City will be lucky to leave Minnesota with a draw.
Yankee Stadium has always been an embarrassment to both NYCFC and MLS, but this past Saturday it became a dangerous embarrassment. The turf that the grounds crew rolls up to where the infield normally is for Yankee games has only gotten worse and worse and this was easily the worst field conditions in the history of NYCFC bar none. The Yankees played a game on a Wednesday before and it takes three days to change the field over from baseball to soccer and it rained all night on Friday so the new grass was waterlogged and water splashed up every time a player set foot in that part of the pitch. This also led to massive divots in the grass and frankly it both teams were lucky no one got hurt, Alex Ring came up limping after sliding into second base and was very fortunate to avoid major injury. At halftime, the grounds crew worked furiously to fix the massive divot near the corner flag but the damage was already done, the field conditions are unacceptable and both MLS and NYCFC don’t seem to care.
It was a beautiful day last week for the match and the attendance was disappointing as it failed to eclipse 20,000 people. Considering it was a 65 degree Saturday afternoon this is a bad number, attendance is an issue everywhere in MLS outside of a couple of markets but City used to draw 25-30 thousand people easily regardless of the weather or opponent. The die-hard supporters will always be there, but the attendance of casual fan has dwindled every year and there are a lot of reasons why. Yankee Stadium is not a good place to watch soccer, there are few decent sight lines and the dimensions are abysmal, it’s getting harder and harder for fans to come to grips with this and with no stadium news insight it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
A longtime supporter who is at every match described the lifeless draw as “the worst game in five years”, given City fans have endured losing 7-0 multiple times this might be hyperbole but he isn’t too far off. Ever since Domenec Torrent took over last summer, there has been a palpable change in both the performance of the club on the pitch and the overall vibe off of the pitch.
Before Patrick Vieira’s departure, City was on pace to compete with Atlanta and the Red Bulls in the Supporter’s Shield race and they fell apart. Torrent in this time has displayed a massive amount of arrogance and snark for someone who has won four of his last twenty-one and has never been a successful manager anywhere. His claim to fame is being legendary manager Pep Guardiola’s right-hand man everywhere Pep has gone, including Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and of course Manchester City. But how tough of a job can that really be?
Agreeing with Guardiola about playing Lionel Messi or Robert Lewandowski or Kevin de Bruyne isn’t exactly a brilliant display of soccer knowledge. Yet he has this air of condescension whenever the media questions a decision he makes, for a manager that has never won anything it’s not a good look at all.
Frustration for the supporters is at an all-time high, the field is falling apart, and City sits second to last in the conference. Other than that everything is fine.
Featured Image: Pat Spero