It just doesn’t add up for New York City FC coach Ronny Deila.
A team largely unchanged from the one that finished atop the Eastern Conference a year ago has five losses in its first MLS six games of the 2020 season — with four coming by the same 1-0 scoreline.
That was also the final score in NYCFC’s home leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals against Tigres UANL.
“I’ve never been through this before that we have lost four times 1-0,” Deila said after his club’s 1-0 defeat to the New York Bulls Thursday night at Red Bull Arena. “It’s very, very rare.”
The decisive moment in the latest chapter of the Hudson River Derby was a controversial goal awarded following Video Review after a stunning Sean Johnson gaffe. The NYCFC goalkeeper flubbed Kyle Duncan’s shot, which went off his hands and it was ruled to have landed just over the goal line.
“I trust in Sean. Every goalkeeper have some things and he had a fantastic save in the first half and also a great save when it was 1-0 as well,” Deila said. “Mistakes happen. It’s how we bounce back from it and I know we’re doing to do that.”
Defender James Sands also backed his goalkeeper after the game.
“Sean let it in, but he saved us three or four times,” he said. “I think there's bigger things that we have to address.”
And NYCFC have to address them quickly. They head into Week 7 with just three points and are only better than winless Inter Miami CF in the Eastern Conference.
It’s a confidence thing, not a tactical issue, Deila said.
“We need that [extra] 10 percent of energy like we had against Toronto and Miami [at the MLS is Back Tournament] because it’s all small differences between the teams here,” Deila said. “Now we have four days to make ourselves ready for an important game for us.”
When confidence is lacking, a controversial goal decision has an even larger affect on a team as NYCFC were mostly toothless in attack after falling behind.
“i think when things are not going as well as we want, we're not scoring the goals and we've been losing games, I think a 50-50 call like that just makes it that much more frustrating,” Sands said. "It really is tough.”
It doesn’t get any easier from here. Next up is a home game at Red Bull Arena Monday (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; on DAZN in Canada) against top of the table Columbus Crew SC, who are coming off a convincing 3-0 win over Chicago Fire FC, have a +11 goal differential and have conceded just once in the regular season.
“That’s something we have to work ourselves out of. It’s not a quick solution,” Deila said. “Everybody, including myself, has to really dig deep and find that strength and that belief and that power that makes you come out to the pitch and bounce back. That’s what we’re going to do now on Monday.”