NYCFC returned to action against New England for matchday 6. The boys in blue faced the conference leaders before returning home next week, a challenging task given the previous result. The fanbase wanted to see immediate changes or at least the return of the winning formation in hopes of a positive result. It’s safe to say that moves were made and indirectly might have hinted at what the season could look like down the road.
More changes and new faces get the job done for NYCFC:
It was as if the team heard the entire fanbase during the week. From podcasts (me included) to social media calling for Talles Magno’s return to the left wing. A request that seemed unlikely due to the manager’s confidence in Talles to develop as a striker. But to our surprise, we saw the Brazilian return to his usual spot on his left wing. This, however, meant two things, the first being that the team was going to day view a striker to fill that role. Secondly, one of the players in the attacking line was going to the bench. Who were the players involved, you ask?
The first name was Gabriel Pereira; the Brazilian gave way for Pellegrini in the starting lineup. But the star of the moment was Gabe Segal, the young striker who stepped up to fill the spot in the 9 role against New England. Since it was going to be his first outing, there were not many expectations for him to make an instant impact. Most of us know that to be a lethal striker, you sometimes need to build chemistry with the rest of the team. Overall he had a good performance, and hopefully, we get to see him again throughout the season.
True the result was a draw, but those who watched the game can tell you that the team didn’t have the best of games until the closing minutes of the match. Turnovers were in high order for NYCFC. The opening goal came from a turnover in midfield that wasn’t properly defended, leaving the team vulnerable to counterattacks as a result. You may think otherwise but luck has a heavy influence in soccer, so yes, the team did have a bit of luck against New England. Again, those who watched the game know why I say this. The result did however come with a heavy price to pay, thankfully, the villain became the hero for NYCFC.
Despite the changes up front, the team returned to their usual form with Sands back in midfield and Chanot in defense, but as always, things never go according to plan. Tayvon Gray picked up an injury before the match, so he was ruled out.
As expected, Mitja Ilenic took his place, but this is where things got tricky. Ilenic had picked up an injury during the international break and needed limited playing time to avoid relapses. Due to how things played out he had to play from the start, causing him to be substituted due to a relapse right after NYCFC had made 3 substitutions. It wasn’t the best scenario, but it had to be done. His injury seemed to be the final blow New England was looking for to walk away with the three points. But in a last surge of energy, both Talles Magno and Richie Ledezma displayed their best minutes of the match near the end. They both combined in the play, which resulted in NYCFC’s equalizing goal. The Brazilian was able to squeeze through the defense during a corner kick and found the back of the net with a well-placed header. The “villain” became the hero for NYCFC the day that he returned to his natural position on the field. Talk about irony right?
Overall, the result gave the team a chance to walk away with a point. I mean, something is better than nothing, right? For me, that last surge of energy left me with a positive perspective of the match. If the team can have that drive and image in the upcoming games away from home, things are looking pretty good. Again, let’s remember that this is a transitional season so there might be more negatives than positives. All that’s left to do is to trust the process, Magno out of the 9 role should be a good sign. With a month left in the MLS transfer window, who knows if a striker arrives? At the moment, the only certain thing is Thiago Andrades’s departure to Atletico Paranaense. It hasn’t been made official, but his absence from the bench might have confirmed the move.
NYCFC returns to The Bronx on Saturday to face Atlanta United.