By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith
New York City Football Club managed to pull out 7 points in 7 days with glimmers of hope for even better play going forward. To recap, NYCFC played 3 games in a 7 day stretch pulling out a road victory against DC United 2-0, a home victory 1-0 versus Chicago Fire and drawing with Orlando City SC 1-1 most recently.
Not surprisingly, the team’s best performance and the seemingly unlikely road win against a strong DC United, was a result of Coach Dome Torrent playing new Brazilian striker Héber, alongside Alexandru Mitrita and Maxi Moralez. The threesome demonstrated some early signs of offensive chemistry.
Unfortunately, Mitrita suffered an ankle injury in that match resulting in him not playing against Chicago Fire and playing limited minutes off the bench versus Orlando SC. The magical recipe for strong attack combines these three players with a dash of Taty Castellanos and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.
The other big takeaway from the week: James Sands is basically a human honey badger on the field and you know what they say about honey badgers?
Sands, the club’s first homegrown who began starting in a defensive role this season has been the bane of many a seasoned opposing player’s existence. He’s been on NYCFC’s roster for the past three years with limited play time but he has been a constant defensive force this season.
Has the team struggled to score goals this year? Yes, but the team has only lost one match to date.
Over the past three games, Sands took Wayne Rooney out of most of DC United’s attacking chances in the mid field and almost completely neutralized CJ Sapong on Chicago Fire. He gave Nani and Dom Dwyer of OCSC zero space to maneuver. Sands does not defer and even slightly back off very seasoned and sometimes legendary opponents and seems fully committed to sacrificing his body in the process of stopping a play when necessary.
His ability to think ahead and predict the play seems way beyond his 18 years. He deserves a lot of credit for his consistent, physical, intelligent and lack-of-drama style of play.
*Update: Sands has not been in training due to a pulled abductor muscle which happened in the match against Orlando City. So he will, most likely, miss the next match against Montréal Impact on Saturday. So alas, he is an injured honey badger.
NYCFC will make their first attempt to win a match without Sands. I’m a bit nervous.
Featured and all images: Tisha Gale
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