BRONX, N.Y. — It was another game with glaring statistical dominance for New York City FC to the tune of 31-2 in shots, 9-1 shots on frame, 12-0 in corner kicks and 68.4 percent possession.
But if not for late brilliance from David Villa, who scored the equalizer on a free kick four minutes from full time in a 1-1 draw with D.C. United Saturday afternoon, NYCFC would have lost at home for the second straight game after going unbeaten in their first 13 games at Yankee Stadium.
Also glaring is the team’s current run of form – one win in their last eight games and five consecutive games without a win, all against Eastern Conference opponents. A month removed from being true Supporters’ Shield contenders, NYCFC will now have to look over their shoulder and be wary that Columbus Crew SC don’t creep up and catch them for the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference.
The lack of finishing and the lack of results should be troublesome, especially at this late stage of the regular season.
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But not for NYCFC coach Dome Torrent, who said his team’s performance against D.C. United is the prototype needed to not only compete for, but to win MLS Cup.
“I think right now, I say tonight, if we’re able to play in that way, not just here at Yankee Stadium, even away, I say to you right now we have more possibilities to win MLS,” Torrent said.
Torrent said a coach’s job is between the 18-yard boxes and in that area he felt NYCFC performed brilliantly Saturday.
“When I say many times I want to create one style,” Torrent said. “The style is the way to play tonight — keep the ball, create chances, play inside, after that play outside. But the sport is about the result and the result is not good for us because we miss five points in the last two games in Yankee Stadium.”
Inside the NYCFC locker room, though, the players didn’t share that same sense of optimism in the moment. It was more frustration for five points dropped than one earned late.
“I’d rather take a win where we’re playing [crap] than a point where we’re playing fantastic,” Anton Tinnerholm said.
The first-year right back said he’s never played in two games where the dominance doesn’t translate to deserved points. Including the 1-0 loss to New England on Wednesday, NYCFC had 58 shots, but only managed one goal.
“We’re playing in a good way,” Tinnerholm said. “I don’t think we can play better than we’re really doing right now, but we’re not having the flow and not good enough in front of the goal.”
While Tinnerholm said he thinks the team needs to flood more numbers into the box, left back Ben Sweat think NYCFC need to take more chances from distance, especially with teams putting so many numbers behind the ball.
“I think we need to start shooting outside the 18. I think that’s something we’re not doing enough of,” Sweat said. “[Ronald Matarrita] had a couple of good chances tonight and that puts more pressure on the defense. They lay off us and we should take the opportunity. Rather than shooting the next time, they may step and another chance or opportunity may open up behind. … It’s just the final product that we’re missing right now.”
And as well as NYCFC are playing between the 18-yard boxes, the final product is vital, especially come November.