The first 20 minutes were positive, a good showing from New York City FC and it came straight off the training pitch.
But when NYCFC faced adversity, and there was a lot of it in a 5-1 loss to the LA Galaxy at a sold-out StubHub Center Sunday afternoon, the response wasn’t what the expansion team was expecting.
“We trained hard for this game. In the first 20 we played the way we prepared for this game. We were playing well and almost scored a goal, but them we stopped doing what we were doing,” said David Villa, who scored a second-half penalty kick. “When you play against a great team, let’s acknowledge that they are a great team, they are a better team than us, they are the defending champions. When you play against a team better that you the only thing you can do is stay 100 percent focused and after the 20th minute we didn't do that.”
As a result, NYCFC were punished dearly for their mistakes and squandered yet another opportunity to move above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. They remain tied with Montreal on points, but the Impact have more wins and four games in hand.
“We still have a lot to learn about how to be mentally strong and how to get the momentum back in games because I think it is happening to us quite often where we have spells where we are good and then something happens in the game and everything completely shifts and we have a hard time getting that back,” NYCFC coach Jason Kreis said.
The game was billed as a battle of some of the league’s biggest Designated Players, but NYCFC midfielder Frank Lampard missed the match with a quadriceps injury that has kept him out of three straight matches.
“I think a player like Frank in the midfield for us would certainly make a difference. He's a veteran player with a ton of experience that can communicate and can lead the guys around him,” Kreis said. “He might be the guy that we need to stem the tide when things are going a little bit south for us. Unfortunately he wasn’t quite fit enough to really contribute for us today. We will have an entire week to try to get him involved in full trainings and fit for next weekend.”
NYCFC will turn their focus now squarely on a critical match against Columbus Crew SC at Yankee Stadium next Saturday.
“We came into the locker room and everyone was talking about it. It is not something that we expected. It happens and we just have to forget about it,” midfielder Kwadwo Poku said. “We have our next game on Saturday and that is a crucial game too. We definitely have to win that game if we want to make it to the next stage.”