NYCFC is out of the Leagues Cup competition, and their attacking third is a primary reason for many of this season’s failures.

Will the last-minute transfers help the Pigeons find some life in their offense before it’s too late?

Adios, Leagues Cup.  NYCFC exited this interesting tournament on Wednesday night against their local rival, the New York Red Bulls, in another leg of the Hudson River Rivalry this season.

In case you’ve watched any of these Leagues Cup matches around North America over the past couple of weeks, they’ve been quite entertaining, with the penalty kick match resolutions reaching a fever pitch.  I wish I could say the same about the knockout-round matchup between the Pigeons and the Red Bulls.  In this leg of the tournament, the keyword certainly wasn’t precision, technical expertise, or anything like that.  Let’s just say that the watchword of this match was intensity.  

While losing 1-0 on a penalty kick no doubt was a major disappointment for NYCFC to end their Leagues Cup quest, the match against the Red Bulls showed us a glaring issue that’s hovered over this team all season: a lack of success in the attacking third.  NYCFC couldn’t muster much in the way of any type of sustained attack, and even when Tales Magno was brought in as a late-match substitution, it was too little, too late.

Newfound striker Mounsef Bakrar was, for the most part, marked up well in this match, and at times, he seemed to be physically dominated.

Nevertheless, the missing pieces of a successful attacking third are starting to come together for NYCFC, and the question remains – is it too little, too late?

Photo: Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images

Last-minute transfers may help NYCFC find its way back to winning.

NYCFC was a busy franchise during the MLS trade window, which wrapped up this week.  In the secondary window, they picked up 24-year-old Costa Rican forward Alonso Martinez from Belgian side Lommel SK.  In case you’re wondering, how did the Pigeons find a Costa Rican player in Belgium to help out their offense?  The answer is simple: City Football Group and its global football network.

One of the main tools for CFG is their global team system, where players on one team can easily find their way to another team on another continent if they fit that squad’s needs.  Having this global reach means that City Football Group is, in effect, transferring players within themselves, which eliminates a lot of trade talks and financial concerns since, in reality, they are talking about their own players.

In the case of Martinez, NYCFC hopes his experience in the Costa Rican and European leagues will bring some added offensive firepower to the Pigeons.  Martinez has also signed with NYCFC through the 2025 season with an option to pick him up in 2026.

While at Lommel SK, Martinez scored eight goals and nine assists in 36 appearances, and he also has 30 goals and 18 assists while playing in Costa Rica. Even more importantly, Martinez brings international experience with him by representing his native Los Ticos in 14 appearances, including a CONCACAF Nations League appearance this past spring.

The addition of Martinez may be seen as a retooling of the NYCFC attacking third.  Combined with Martinez’ transfer, the Pigeons have added Argentine winger Julian Fernandez as well as striker Mounsef Bakrar in the hopes of breathing some new life into a disappointing season.  To keep things in proper perspective, NYCFC now has about three weeks to get ready for the MLS season resumption, and they need this time to find their way back to winning.

Sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, the Pigeons are in danger of not making the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time since 2015  -their inaugural year.

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