Despite this, their performance wasn’t remotely close to the standard head coach Dome Torrent sets for his side.
“I’m not happy tonight,” said the Spaniard postgame. “We were able to win, but I’m not happy with our performance because I can’t play that way. If you want to win MLS, even when [Orlando] play with 10 players [after Shane O'Neill's ejection], we play bad, really bad. I say in the second half I don’t like to defend deep. I repeat a few times. But I don’t know what happened. Maybe it’s because we won 2-0 in the first half, I don’t know, but we have to improve, improve a lot. Believe me.”
First-half goals from Maxi Moralez and Anton Tinnerholm gave the visitors a cushion for the second half, though it may have led to complacency as they were forced to weather waves of late pressure from the Lions and were outpaced in several statistical categories. Torrent saw dangerous passivity in his team’s mindset, and afterwards reminded them just how high their ambitions for 2018 really are.
“I’m happy when we’re able to keep the ball, we play well, we have the control,” he said. “I remember this game, it’s a little bit similar to Chicago [a 3-2 loss on June 30]. In Chicago we lose the control in 15 minutes but here we lose the control the whole second half.
“Of course we can win the game, maybe we can score another goal, but they can score maybe three or four goals. It’s not the best way to play MLS, if you try to win [the league]. If not, it’s okay, maybe you can end the season in seventh position, sixth position, maybe it’s not bad. But for me, I will try to play much better.”
Torrent made clear that he expects NYCFC to set their sights on both the Shield and MLS Cup, as well as the cultivation of assertive, uptempo soccer.
“We have to create one style here. I want to create a style,” he said. “[Thursday’s display] is not the best way to play the second half. The first half, maybe we played 20 minutes, okay it’s not bad because we keep the ball, we have 20 minutes of control in the game but after that we played very, very bad.
“This is soccer. In soccer you need to play much better. If not, on one day the luck changes and you lose the game.”
“We have no time for the next game,” said Torrent. “But next week we have to practice a lot, defend high, because it’s the best way for me, in my opinion, to defend, especially when you are able to win 2-0.”