When a sports team is down, usually, the consensus is to look for someone or something to blame when things go badly.  In the case of NYCFC, this team is now looking for excuses to help them rationalize what seems to be a mid-season collapse unfolding in our midst.

Forget about NYCFC’s home-field “advantage” – it doesn’t exist.

Before the current home stand, the Pigeons were 4-0-1 at home and arguably one of the toughest teams to play when they play soccer at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.  That home-field advantage has fizzled spectacularly with two consecutive home losses in a row.  I’m not here to break down the pros and cons of the matches or analyze the goals for, and goals conceded.  NYCFC is past that point in the season and needs to find answers right now, or this season will go down in inglorious flames.

NYCFC now has a dismal 4-7-4 record, including two home losses in a row with multiple goals conceded in both matches.  Goalkeeper Matt Freese made his first start since 2021 when he was with the Philadelphia Union and gave up 15 goals in 13 matches with his old side.  Maybe the rust showed a bit but didn’t put losses solely on the shoulders of the goalie – this is a team sport with eleven players on the pitch, and yes, a goalkeeper plays a critical part, but so does everyone else.

Head coach Nick Cushing has resorted to putting together different lineups in each of the previous match losses, and maybe the team chemistry is off. Still, this squad is on a serious losing slide and moving out of playoff contention in early June.

Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Can we really blame the officials for these losses?

Fans, players, and coaches alike love to point fingers at officials when losing but when usually look away when those same officiating errors result in wins.  The previous two matches have had some very questionable officiating calls. Still, with VAR (Video Assisted Review) helping to confirm calls on the pitch, it’s getting harder and harder to articulate if and how a referee makes a bad call.

I’m sure plenty of Pigeon fans can put together a pretty valid argument with me at this point and say the last match against FC Cincinnati should have potentially had a different final score, but those arguments are irrelevant.  VAR is used to provide concrete video evidence to either support or refute what officials call on the pitch, and those decisions are final.  Whether you like it, love it, or hate it, blaming officials for your team’s woes won’t get you far in the video replay age.

Is Nick Cushing’s office chair getting warm yet?

As we’ve already seen a number of coaching changes in MLS this season, NYCFC manager Nick Cushing understandably is probably feeling the warmth in his office chair by now.  When your squad slides into a dismal funk of a season and little changes from match to match, the team leadership is quickly blamed for the team’s woes.

While a manager is in charge of the “X’s and O’s,” it’s still up to the “Jimmys and Joes” wearing the team uniform to execute on the pitch and find ways to score goals and win.  Although Nick Cushing is probably feeling the heat from his job security right now, each NYCFC player shares some of the blame and needs to look in the mirror to come up with a way to salvage this season.

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