It was time for NYCFC to hit the road again after consecutive wins at home. The first stop was Houston, where the locals also aimed for successive wins. Houston Dynamo is particularly strong at home as they use the weather conditions to their advantage, but this time that was not a factor to consider.
The real battle, however, was going to be in midfield. Both teams relied on that area to build their game. So whoever controlled it pretty much decided the match. Manager Nick Cushing pointed out how Dynamo’s Hector Herrera had quality around him and how they didn’t need to allow spaces for them to develop their game if they wanted to control the game. But in the end, it may have been the disruption to the winning formula that made things go south in the west.
Disaster in the West for NYCFC:
Disrupting the lineup is something you can’t do if it provides you with positive results. But when outside factors force you to do it, there’s not much you can do. Losing players like Maxime Chanot and Mitja Ilenic due to International duty call-ups imposed positional changes. It meant that James Sands returned to the defensive line alongside Thiago Martins. This caused a loss of chemistry in midfield with Keaton Parks, and yes, Santiago was still in midfield to help out, but taking one element out of the formula doesn’t provide the same result. Don’t get me wrong, Sands did a solid job in defense ( he played there before the Ranger’s move), but his absence in midfield was felt heavily.
When your team relies on the midfield to generate your game flow, and you move key pieces, it’s a recipe for disaster. A domino effect that disrupted every line as a result. Keaton Parks wasn’t able to connect with the offensive line and never really found the spaces needed to distribute passes properly. This forced Santiago Rodriguez to play out of his area of danger, allowing the opposition to gain control at a faster rate as time progressed. This brings me to the observation that the manager made before the match. If they don’t have space, they cant be dangerous. But with NYCFC’s midfield disruption, Houston was able to push the team back inside their half at some point. Allowing Hector Herrera the control we were not supposed to allow.
Having the team in defense also decreased the opportunities NYCFC could have created. At some point, Keaton and Santiago were in the defense, trying to clear out the danger. Leaving little to no options in attack since Gabriel Perreira and Matias Pellegrini were completely neutralized by Houston Dynamo’s high pressing. It was a tough night for the whole team in general. Nothing worked. So much so that one cross-in attack hit Keaton and resulted in a goal kick for Houston.
Talles Magno came under pressure again after another fixture where he didn’t produce in the attack. Again, it’s not that he’s a bad player, but his position and style don’t fit the 9 roles. His go-to tendency is to distribute the ball as soon as he breaks through the defense. We all witnessed his best version when he played alongside Valentin Castellanos shortly before his move to Girona. While the manager and the team are confident in his ability to fulfill the role, the fanbase might not be able to have that same patience. Does the team have enough shields to protect Talles if things don’t go according to plan?
It’s difficult to close out on a positive note, as there were barely any positives against Houston Dynamo. We saw Richard Ledezma’s first minutes with NYCFC. If anything, the young talent showed glances of his ability. Unfortunately, his first appearance was overshadowed by yet another defeat on the road due to a “very soft” penalty call. The team now focuses on fixing the mistakes against Houston to turn the page against New England next Saturday.