While the opening 45 minutes of Sunday’s match against Toronto FC seemingly belonged to New York City FC, the team’s inability to close out the half proved to be their downfall.
After holding a 2-0 lead entering the final minute before the halftime interval, NYCFC conceded an agonizing goal prior to the referee’s whistle. Superstar Sebastian Giovinco played an accurate free kick into a dangerous area in the New York penalty box, before a sliding Damien Perquis pulled one back for the away side.
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NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira implemented a new 3-4-3 lineup against Toronto, with the goal of condensing the midfield in order to prevent Michael Bradley and Will Johnson a ton of time in possession.
After starting the first match of the season last week against the Chicago Fire, defender Ethan White was forced to the bench, with Jason Hernandez, Fredrick Brilliant and Ronald Matarrita beginning the match for Vieira.
The unit moved well together for large portions of the match, however, lack of communication and simple lapses in judgement cost them at key moments.
“When you’re winning 2-0 and you draw 2-2there’s a lot of frustration from our side,” Vieira said post-match. “We had to control the game a bit better but you have to give credit to Toronto for the way that they played. As a team, we will get better. After our first game against Chicago, I thought that with the way that this team works will get better and stronger. We were better today than we were against Chicago, and we will be better against Orlando because I’m pleased with the hard work of our players.”
Inside of half an hour gone, New York held its two-goal advantage thanks to sharp passing and a pair of David Villa finishes. Although the Spaniard’s second was highly contested by Toronto due to a questionable handling of the ball.
As the match wore on, Giovinco was afforded more time on the ball, thus creating separation between the NYCFC defense. There were times where Vieira’s backline looked disjointed, including on the buildup to the Atomic Ant’s equalizer with under a quarter-hour remaining when Frederic Brilliant failed to close down the Italian in a timely manner.
“We knew how good they were up front,” Vieira said. “They’re very mobile in the counterattack and it was very direct. When we analyze the game I’m quite pleased with the way that we stopped them and tried to find Giovinco behind our back three. Giovinco’s goal was a result of talent, and sometimes you have to accept the talent from the other team.”
While New York’s costly mistakes did force them to drop two points on Sunday, the team remains unbeaten through two games. It’s way too early to tell the side’s fate when it truly matters, but from what we’ve seen so far it’s safe to say that Vieira has brought a new attitude that will provide long-term success at Yankee Stadium.