Shield hopes gone? NYCFC looking to find formula as season winds down

NEW YORK – Despite a second consecutive loss for the first time since April 2016 and just one win in New York City FC’s last seven games, coach Dome Torrent insists his team hasn’t lost its way.

Not after what he deemed a positive performance despite an unfavorable result in a 1-0 home loss to the New England Revolution Wednesday night. 

“Today our team played really well,” Torrent said. “I’m not happy for the result, but I’m happy for the way we are able to play. That is the best way to improve. The last game we played really, really bad. I’m very angry with them. But today they deserved to win the game.”

But can NYCFC balance the necessary improvements Torrent is seeking while still earning wins down the stretch of the regular season? 

“When we were able to win games I said many many times, we and they need time to create something to play good football,” Torrent said. “Tonight, I’m happy with the performance of our players. But we don’t have time right now because we have just six games before the playoffs.”

Torrent said NYCFC will still shoot for the Supporters’ Shield “because it is our job,” but that’s becoming more hopeful and less realistic with the club seven points behind the pace-setting New York Red Bulls. And with Atlanta United just one point out of first place in the East, NYCFC may now be resigned to competing in the Knockout Round.

“As Dome said, the goal is to make the playoffs and push on from there,” defender Sebastien Ibeagha said. “That’s also the main focus. If you do well now, you make the playoffs and if you keep doing well hopefully you get Supporters’ Shield. That’s kind of the main focus going forward.”

While there were clear signs of frustration on the field Wednesday night, there doesn’t appear to be any panic in the NYCFC locker room despite the recent poor run of form. 

“We’ll figure it out,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. “We’re in a position now where, thankfully, we’ve picked up a decent amount of points early on, but we’ve got to keep going. Things are getting tighter down the stretch, so figuring out how to win on the road is going to be huge going into the playoffs.”

However, Johnson also admitted NYCFC had three chances to close the gap in their last three games – home games against the Red Bulls and Revolution and at Columbus – and they failed each time. 

“Hopefully we put ourselves in a position where we get to play home and away, that’s what we’re really focusing on now. If not the first spot, the second spot, that’s what we’ve got to be gunning for and we’ve got to do ourselves justice,” Johnson said. “We’ve had three games now where it’s been in our lap to get results and we could be six to nine points further than we are now and that’s what sucks about it.”