I was disappointed and angry as NYCFC Playoffs journey could turn short. Too short.
Not because we had lost, going into someone’s home stadium is and will always be a difficult task. Even though we had the best away record in the MLS this season we still were facing a very tough Toronto FC squad with a stud in Giovinco and an in-form Altidore and the ever clever Michael Bradley. We were also missing Pirlo, Tommy Mac and Lampard in the starting XI.
7 MINUTES AWAY FROM A GREAT RESULT
I was disappointed and angry because while we didn’t play great, while the midfield looked a bit discombobulated for most of the game, losing possession constantly (this is where we miss you Andrea), we were still managing to hold a clean sheet away. We held it together for the first 80 minutes. Then it all started falling apart. Toronto’s attacks started flowing together and red jerseys started to fill the box, over and over. Finally in the 83rd Altidore stuck his foot in there and we were down 1-0. Even that I can understand.
CONFIRMATION OF A SHAKY DEFENSE
What happened next is the infuriating part, especially to fans who have followed the team so closely and have felt the heartbreak of the multiple stoppage time goals we have allowed. The nerves as the Yankee Stadium clock hits 90 minutes, stops counting and its as if we forget how to play defense. It was like watching a bad movie ending. Toronto changed the front from left to right and then crossed it back to the left side hitting the back post. A completely unmarked Ricketts was left to score off of his own rebound while both Chanot and Matarrita stare at him. You can actually see Matarrita mark Altidore when the cross is coming in with a fully open Ricketts going for the ball, and then you can see him stop moving when Ricketts gets his first shot in and watch him score on his own rebound from the floor. Then the arm waving and staring starts. It was as if they wanted to point fingers at each other but thought twice.
90 MINUTES (OR MORE) TO KEEP DREAMING
Now that I have had a chance to sleep on it, and let it mull I can say that I am no longer angry because we played a decent game with a shortened squad and were ten minutes away from heading back to the Stadium with a draw. We have known since opening day that our defense was not our strong point. It will hopefully be something that is focused on fully in the offseason. But we are not quite there just yet. We have a full 90 minutes of fútbol left at home. We will have Pirlo and hopefully Tommy Mac back, and I feel like we have found a stud in goal in Erik Johansen. He was a bright spot and made me wonder why it took this long to get him on the first team.
I am no longer angry, what I am now is hopeful. Hopeful knowing that we have all the tools necessary to make a comeback this Sunday and show that WE can stay focused, stick together and make a deeper playoff run.
It hasn’t always been pretty but every second has been worth the ride.
I love this team. NYCFC Playoffs Journey Is Not Over. See you Sunday.