A promising start and a quick goal eventually gave way to a pair of late goals, a 2-1 loss to D.C. United and the painful reality that New York City FC’s slim playoff hopes were all but dashed at rain-soaked RFK Stadium Friday night.
“I’m obviously shattered right now,” NYCFC coach Jason Kreis said. “What a great start by us, to score early like we did, but as the game wore on, I thought to myself, you can score too early. After the first goal, I felt that our guys maybe thought it was going to be a little easier than it was.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak that matched a season high and kept NYCFC five points behind the playoff line in the Eastern Conference with just two games left to play. Sixth-place Montreal have three games in hand.
During this desperate push for a playoff spot, Kreis had repeatedly said his team needed to win out – and then get some help.
While the locker room after was somber, midfielder Andrew Jacobson wasn’t ready to concede yet.
“It is something we can’t really think about,” Jacobson said. “As long as we have a chance, we are going to keep going for it, and that’s all you can really do to prepare for the next game.”
Frank Lampard pounced on a rebound to score inside the first minute. It was the quickest goal of the season for the club and it appeared the postseason dream was alive and well.
But soon NYCFC found themselves defending – a lot. While the collective defending was promising, it seemed just a matter of time before D.C. United struck.
“In the second half, I thought we came out real sluggish, and credit to D.C. because they were putting us under a lot of pressure, putting a lot of balls in and around our penalty box,” Kreis said. “We had to deal with a lot of corner kicks as well, so I always felt like the dam was getting ready to break.”
It finally did when Fabian Espindola leveled on a rebound in the 73rd minute. Knowing a tie wouldn’t do them any good, NYCFC pushed numbers forward and conceded the decisive goal as Alvaro Saborio struck in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.
“We were going for the full points. I think that it led to some guys being really tired,” Kreis said. “Our centerbacks had to deal with a lot of space, so I think that could have played a part in why we allowed their second goal. I think we were probably fatigued to make a play at that point.”