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Trick & Defeat: Three Takeaways From NYCFC’s v. Columbus Crew

On a night in which millions of Americans wear costumes to mask their identity, NYCFC wished they could hide behind a mask after their error-filled performance dug themselves a grave in their playoff tie with the Columbus Crew. After what was a long ninety minutes to bear for their fans, NYCFC finds themselves in a substantial 1-4 aggregate deficit.

Many, including myself, thought that NYCFC would put last year’s playoff nightmare behind them with a convincing performance this evening. However, that wasn’t the case. At all.

Here are my three takeaways from tonight’s match.

Callens Red Card Puts NYCFC Into a Terrible Position

Alexander Callens, who played in every minute of the 2017 MLS season, ate some bad Halloween candy or something before the match. After his blatant elbow earned himself a red card in the 52nd minute, NYCFC tried to chase a game, on the road, from behind, with one less man on the field. This ‘brain-fart’ by Callens put another hole into an already weathered battleship.

Turning to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, NYCFC faces a depth problem and a big one at that. With no Callens, it is uncertain who will pair up with Frederic Brilliant at the heart of the defense. Maxime Chanot is still recovering from injury and isn’t confirmed to be available for the return leg. Ethan White, who is a natural center-back, didn’t have the best of performances tonight, possibly leaving doubt in Vieira’s mind. If push comes to shove, Ben Sweat or Alexander Ring could find themselves at center-back if Vieira decides to play with a back-four.

Errors Galore Created a Mountain for NYCFC to Climb

Throughout the match, NYCFC had a plethora of opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. In all but one of those many chances, NYCFC failed to do so. Whether it was hitting the post, messing up a one-on-one or a terrible shot on a fast break, NYCFC didn’t take their chances, and it cost them mightily.

“We didn’t take our chances, and when you create so much and only score once, it’s not good enough,” Patrick Vieira stated following the match.

Along with the missed chances, the turnovers in the midfield were far too common. Despite being a staple in the heart of the NYCFC midfield, Alexander Ring didn’t have the best MLS playoff debut, coughing the ball up multiple times and mishitting quite a few passes.

Finally, you can’t forget about Sean Johnson’s rough night in goal. Johnson, whose debut season in NYC is going quite well, had a night to forget. Three out of the four goals could warrant blame on Johnson. The second and third, however, definitely are on Johnson, as the Atlanta-native delayed reactions and poor controlling of shots allowed the Crew to punch home two goals.

Despite the errors from Johnson, the whole team didn’t perform tonight, and no one person should be the subject of all the blame.

Vieira Went For It To Say the Least

Vieira mentioned to media members on Monday that he was going to go for it in Columbus, citing that he learned from his mistakes in the Toronto FC series last season. From the start of this match, NYCFC went out and attacked and nearly got two early goals before Columbus got the opener in the sixth minute.

The starting eleven in NYCFC’s regular 4-3-3 boded well against Columbus in the first half. However, there were a few exceptions. Ethan White didn’t have the greatest of games. Going forward, White and Harrison didn’t mesh on the right-hand side, and White stayed quite high up the field. This positioning left the Crew with the option to counter down White’s side, which they did time and time again.

To prevent Columbus from running wild down the touchline, White needed to come back. Plain and simple.

In the second half following the Callens red card, Vieira didn’t move White back in his place, which would make sense as White is a natural center-back. Vieira rather moved Alexander Ring to center-back, which didn’t work out swimmingly for the team. After a few substitutions, Vieira found himself with a back three of Sweat, Brilliant and Andraz Struna.

Despite Villa pulling back a goal for NYCFC, Vieira felt his team didn’t do what it needed too.

“When you have one man down, you have to do a bit more & we didn’t do it,” Vieira stated. “When you don’t do the extra, you will suffer.”

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