Category Archives: Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference

#NYCFCInk: These colors don’t run – featuring Jay Jimenez

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

By Tisha Gale // @TishaGale

Each tattoo exemplifies an artistic narrative so powerful it is capable of shaping a person’s identity. The temporary pain and permanent markings show the wearers commitment to a specific interest. Tattoos are the only accessories a person always has with them. They are a symbol of our attachment to our inner selves, but they also provide a shared connection to the people and things around us.

The story behind a tattoo can sometimes serve as a great unifier among various groups of people. The ink and the meaning they hold can also be great icebreakers and conversation starters.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Jay at Yankee Stadium. Image: @TishaGale

For Jay Jimenez, tattoos represent a connection to family. His most recent tattoo, the New York City FC monogram, which he had done the same day as the UEFA Champions League final in May of this year, signifies his connection to his NYCFC family.

“I wanted another tattoo and I felt really connected to NYCFC, but mostly the bond with the other fans.” –Jay Jimenez (@dotdawriter)

His only other tattoo features five rectangles in a row, which symbolizes the bond he shares with his four siblings.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Tattoo up close. Image: @TishaGale

Jay sits in section 235 at Yankee Stadium with his NYC 12 family and fellow supporters. He has been a supporter since the club’s formation.

His favorite NYCFC memory comes compliments of the club’s home game against Chicago on July 22, 2017.  On this particular game day, it seemed like everything was going against City. Things started going downhill in the 12th min of play when Yangel Herrera picked up a red card. Chicago then proceeded to hold 66% ball possession throughout the match.

It was a tough game, “but somewhere in the supporter’s section, ‘Come on New York’ started and I swear the entire stadium was singing it. It gave me chills. It felt like we willed the team to win. I’ve never felt so close to something in my life.” –Jay Jimenez (@dotdawriter)

With the true New York grit that we’ve all come to love and admire, and a stadium of supporters bellowing out the battle cry, City managed to pull off a 2-1 win over the Fire.

Jay’s second fondest memory is meeting Jack Harrison’s mom for the second time. His first encounter with Debbie Harrison was at the MLS SuperDraft in 2016, when NYCFC acquired the first overall pick, Jack Harrison, via a trade with the Chicago Fire. Meeting the mother of your favorite team’s new signee is cool, but running into her a few months after at Yankee Stadium, and realizing that she genuinely remembered your first meeting is something extra special. The Harrison’s are undeniably missed in New York.

New York City FC faces off against Chicago again in their next home match on Wednesday, September 26nd, at 7pm.

Aside from cheering on his favorite team, Jay enjoys playing FIFA—although he admits, “I’ve recently been humbled by a friend so I’ve taken a break.”

When Jay’s not focused on all things soccer related, he works as a hotel manager.

Featured image of Jay and friends: Juan Carlos Rubiano @OhCitySaidI

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @TishaGale

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Montréal Impact claim a vital road win in Battle of the Bells

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, September 15: 1-4 Win

It’s that time of year. The race to the playoffs is in full swing, and it’s getting tighter with each passing match. Montréal Impact had firmly ensconced themselves into the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot after a truly complete home win against first-placed (at the time) New York Red Bulls. It was now time to take the road to face the fifth-placed Philadelphia Union in one of the many six-point matches left of the season. Travels had not been kind to Montréal this year, as they had collected a mere 8 points on the road going into the City of Brotherly Love.

Rémi Garde led with what many believe to be the strongest starting eleven presented this season. There was only one change from the 3-0 win over the Red Bulls, with Rudy Camacho returning to central defense as Jukka Raitala took the bench. Quincy Amarikwa’s physicality and dynamism, two qualities which had been sorely missing up front, was rewarded with another start for the league veteran.

After a tepid start, the Impact were caught sleeping on a corner, as defender Austin Trusty got the jump on his marker and scored his first career goal. Following the goal, it seemed as though the Impact had deflated, much as had been the case every time they had trailed in the scoreline this season. Indeed, Montréal had only collected one point after going behind in the scoring. As the Union enjoyed extended periods of possession, it appeared as though the Impact were going to let three crucial points slip through their fingers.

However, fans of the Bleu-Blanc-Noir would be pleasantly surprised. Following a turnover in possession, Ignacio Piatti and Alejandro Silva led a swift counterattack. So many times Silva had created a fabulous chance that was saved or missed the target, yet this time he kept his composure against onrushing keeper Andre Blake and his low shot ran into Philly’s net. Shortly before halftime, Saphir Taïder chased a rebound off Blake’s save, and poked it home to seize the lead.

Things would only get better in the second half. As the Union found it increasingly difficult to penetrate Montréal’s defense, Amarikwa’s tireless efforts were compensated with his first goal as an Impact player as he bundled home a cross from Daniel Lovitz. To put the cherry on the sundae, Silva and Piatti capped the night with yet another blistering counterattack from the top of Montréal’s 18-yard box, and Silva chipped Blake to notch his second goal of the night.

It was a classic Montréal Impact win, with a tight defense and a clinical counter allowing the Impact to depart Philadelphia with the comfort of knowing they will end the weekend in sixth place, and that the North Star Bell > the Liberty Bell.

Additionally, results elsewhere in the Eastern Conference have favoured the Impact, with the pursuing DC United and New England Revolution only picking up draws in their respective games. As the Impact keep their eyes fixed on the next match versus NYCFC, fans and pundits are bound to continue to keep one very interested eye on the standings.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Joy and Pain. In cold NYC rain.

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, Sept 8: 1-1 Draw

Sometimes you need fresh eyes to appreciate what you have.  Jess Houwen the MLSFemale reporter for Colorado Rapids arrived in New York City on Saturday and breathed some much needed fresh air into my outlook regarding the New York City Football Club experience. My big takeaway is that sometimes you don’t need to veer too far off your regular path to see things a different way.

After meeting up with Jess and my NYCFC sister Tisha Gale outside Penn Station, we hoofed it to Times Square. Yes, the place that most New Yorkers avoid at all costs mostly due to the slow-moving tourists and scary faux Hello Kitties accosting you for a photo. We had a few hours to spare before the NYCFC game against DC United up in the Bronx.

We popped into the M & M store on Jess’s promise of to-die-for coffee flavored candies. Sadly, they ran out of the coffee M&Ms but the caramel and the mint crunch ones are pretty damn good.  If I’m being honest, the walls covered in giant tubes of brightly colored candies were a sight to behold.  A place I normally zoom past without thought, I can now appreciate.

Another highlight of our pre-gaming tour was Tisha spontaneously juggling a soccer ball in the Adidas store to the amusement of fellow shoppers.

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Onward and upward we headed to the stadium on the 4 train.  Jess, embracing her inner New Yorker, purchased her first NYCFC scarf and became an NYCFC fan for the day (or maybe longer?).  I was excited to catch my first glimpse of Wayne Rooney and see how he and David Villa would match up this time. Of course, I went in low-key nervous as NYC was missing more than a handful of players due to injuries and international call ups and DC has been recently invigorated by the arrival of Rooney.

In the first half, we sat in my seats which are behind the goal, opposite the supporters’ section and we saw strong indications of deep respect and friendliness between Villa and Rooney.  On one occasion where the referee Kevin Stott was considering calling an offensive foul on Villa who was actually taken down by a DC player, it appeared that Rooney was intervening on Villa’s behalf.

Still scoreless going into the second half, we switched it up and watched from the supporters’ section, which is Tisha’s view of the game.  180 degrees from where I normally spectate and a world away, I got completely sucked up in the drums, the chants, the excitement and the frustration.

While we were in the bleachers, City was scored on by DC’s Steve Birnbaum in the 58th minute via a gorgeous free kick service by Rooney.   Then at the 86th minute, Villa leveled the score on his world-class shot, also from a free kick.  Pain and then joy experienced from another angle and with a different crowd.

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The match ended in a 1-1 draw and while fans in the supporters’ section more openly and creatively expressed both frustration with the poor shot accuracy and simultaneous relief at grabbing a point, those same emotions were felt by most NYCFC fans regardless of the seating area. From both of my vantage points, it genuinely looked like both Rooney and Villa enjoyed themselves.  Also from all angles, it was evident how solidly and intelligently James Sands plays in midfield, which is a big deal for the growth and development of the team and club.

It’s worth mentioning that DC United scored on one of two total shots while NYCFC’s finishing continued to seem cursed with only one goal out of  31 total shots.  This is on the heels of NYC’s loss to New England Revolution this week despite outshooting them 27 to 11.

City’s next match is away at Montréal, which I will be attending, on Saturday 9/22.  What we are clearly lacking right now is finishing ability.  We aren’t that far from our early-season dangerous attacking form.  Let’s hope that those players returning will bring a fresh perspective to get the team completely back to fighting form.

Featured image of Jess: Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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A Message to the NYCFC Players

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

By Tisha Gale // @TishaGale

With the tough MLS scheduling, a slew of injuries and now international call-ups, we know that our pineapple isn’t looking very pretty. However, greatness is written on the backbone of those who can rise above adversity.

Tomorrow, we want you all to go out and play with tenacity, the same kind of grit you showed us against the New York Red Bulls on August 22nd. We—the fans—need to see the same indomitable spirit you so proudly displayed on that Wednesday night in the Bronx. It is in these moments when our true colors are revealed. Like Terry Bradshaw once said, “When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.”

Tomorrow—our game against the reinvigorated D.C. United—is our challenge. We must remind ourselves of who we are and what we’re capable of achieving. We must show the opposing teams that they still have a lot to fear going into the playoffs. This is New York’s team and New Yorkers never back down from a challenge.

Tomorrow, the fans will be there in full force. The drummers will drum as if they’ve never drummed before. The capos will bellow out chants that will echo throughout Yankee Stadium. We will bring the noise, all we ask is that you bring the grit, and let us have ourselves a good ole New York style party in the Bronx.

Blood, sweat, and tears—leave it all on the field!

#ForTheCity

Featured image: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @TishaGale

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NYCFC’s season resembling a slowly deflating balloon

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Wednesday, Sept 5: 0-1 Loss

The bright shiny balloon that was the New York City Football Club‘s season is slowly deflating and losing its luster. After this recent loss to the New England Revolution 1-0, it’s hard now to consider early season fan-think that our team is the best in the league and deserves to win “silverware”.

In this match NYCFC took 27 shots, of which 6 were on target, 12 were off target and 9 were blocked.  All of this shooting resulted in zero goals.  New England were able to score one goal off 11 total shots.  Unbeaten at home until tonight, fans are left scratching their heads as to what the core problems are and how they can be addressed to possibly salvage this season.

Yes, more shots were taken in this game than last but they either went wide or directly at goalkeeper Brad Knighton. David Villa seemed to constantly be taking extraneous touches which lead to him being shut down when a one-touch shot would have sufficed.

It’s clear we worked the left wing pretty well to get the ball down to New England’s third but the repeated high crosses from that side were quickly destroyed by the high number of Revolution defenders concentrated in the middle.  It looked like a similar tactic to the one DC United successfully executed in shutting down Josef Martinez in their victory last week over Atlanta FC.

Thus, I am very nervous about our prognosis for this Saturday’s game against the newly invigorated DC. The only silver lining is that our homegrown teen James Sands made his starting debut in midfield and played very well for 75 minutes. Coach Dome Torrent was pleased with his performance and now that he’s back from his short loan to Louisville perhaps we will see more of him on a more regular basis.

Until Saturday. Let’s hope the balloon still has some air left in it.

*Final thought– A noticeable factor for both teams was the embarrassing status of the baseball infield layover of grass. It became an area that both teams had to actively avoid as players appeared to be walking on ice. It seemed impossible to pivot on without one or two players falling in the process.

Featured image: @NYCFC

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Mixed emotions as NYCFC fall to Columbus Crew 2-1

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, Sept 1: 2-1 Loss

On Saturday, I bore witness to two poorly played soccer matches. The first was the local high school’s varsity team’s first game of the season, played by a team where most teenagers only touch a soccer ball during the 8 week season and the other was New York City Football Club versus Columbus Crew.  In case you were living in a hole, the final score for the latter was 2-1 Columbus Crew.  (And if you’re really curious, the high school team lost 5-1.)  I can’t say that these matches were that dissimilar from each other. The high school team faced one of the best in the league and will get better as the season goes on, but can we say this about NYCFC?

Consistent manpower continues to be an issue for New York City with players injured, out for international call-ups, red cards and yellow card accumulations. I have no doubt that rotating players and lineups messes with chemistry but we played last week with 9 players and moved quicker and faster with more desire than we did with 11 in this one.

Looking at some statistics about the number of lineup changes and its effects on game outcome over the past three seasons in MLS, Dustin Nation (@D_Naish) of American Soccer Analysis (@AnalysisEvolved) correlated the number of lineup changes with the three outcomes: win, loss or draw.  He found that more than 2 roster changes per game generally lead a team to be less likely to win.

I would be very interested in a further study of this data going back 10 years to include a few World Cup years to see if these events are independent variables. My gut says that there is definitely a connection between a “forced hand” (injuries/red cards/international call-ups) reason for changing lineups and strategically changing lineups to improve performance.  Hopefully, this is something that I can research further.

I started writing this match reflection with one part frustration, a half part exasperation and a pinch of collective woe-is-me self-pity.  I mean we wasted a huge rare opportunity to gain points in a week where both the NY Red Bulls and Atlanta FC also lost.  I was thinking about the supporters who take days off work, pack into small cars and travel many hours to give our team a rousing base of support.  I feel for them and the optimistic energy they bring every single game and why does this not translate into wins or at least into performances that we can be proud of?

And then I learned of the passing of a passionate NYCFC founding supporter and saw the immediate response across all parts of the club’s universe to help her family during an extremely difficult time. From the initial communication from New York City Supporters’ Club and setting up of a GoFundMe to which our club president was one of the first contributors, to Blue City Radio donating and raffling off match tickets, the response was swift and full of fierce loyalty to her. As reporter and podcaster Nick Chavez stated in a tweet, “Let us, as the family we are, help look after the needs of the family our beloved Tirzah left behind.” My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Tirza Gonzalez.

As a female soccer fan, it can sometimes be a lonely place in the US. I have very few local friends who follow the sport at all, let alone MLS.  I used to think of fans of the sport as members of my species and then those who support NYCFC as my tribe. I’m seeing more clearly that this connection we have to our team and each other is family.

#SaveTheCrew

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All images: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Columbus Crew SC v New York City FC

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, Sept 1: 2-1 Win

On Saturday in front of a home crowd of about 12,000 fans, Columbus Crew SC found their groove again that will hopefully continue on through the post-season and all the way to the MLS Cup, winning 2-1 against NYCFC. 

While Crew SC felt like the more dominant team for most of the first half with opportunities for goals for Justin Meram and Gyasi Zardes, the half ended in a 0-0 tie. 

Then in the 53’, NYCFC pulled ahead when Anton Tinnerholm hit the ball against Crew SC’s Lalas Abubakar.  The ball then bounced back off Tinnerholm to the feet of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi who put it in the net.

It wasn’t long before Crew SC struck back and did so in a short time span.  In the 61’, Frederico Higuain sent a ball to Harrison Afful who was outside the 18.  He shot the ball.  It bounced off an NYCFC player right back to Afful who took another rip at the ball.  Abubakar ducked out Afful’s rocket shot and the ball sailed into the bottom corner of the net past Sean Johnson.  The goal was very reminiscent of Wil Trapp’s goal a few weeks ago.

Then in the 63’, Justin Meram headed the ball in off a corner kick from Pedro Santos and celebrated his first goal since returning home to Columbus Crew SC by kissing the Columbus Crew SC badge on his jersey

At the game‘s end, Crew SC was still in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, but 3 points closer to NYCFC who sits in 3rd place. 

Other Thoughts:

I am excited for the return of Justin Meram, and this game illustrated why it is so good to have him back.  At the end of last season, Justin Meram requested to be traded from Columbus—partly due to the looming threat of a move to Austin and partly because he wanted to stretch himself professionally somewhere other than Columbus where he has been his whole career.  However, things didn’t go as well as Justin had hoped in Orlando, and there was an opportunity for him to return to Columbus. 

Watching Meram play his first full 90 minutes since coming back to Columbus, I’m reminded of what a dangerous threat he developed into as a player here—combining with other players, strong defending, taking players on as he attacked toward the goal, and taking dangerous shots.  We needed someone to lock down the left-wing position, and Meram has settled right back into where he belongs.  As he kissed the crest on his badge after his goal, I’m not going to lie, I got teary.

Pedro Santos has struggled this season, and many have found him a disappointment.  However, in the last few games and with Meram’s return, Santos seems to have found his footing.  He was involved in many dangerous passes that led to other player’s shots and had a few shots of his own.  For a player who I think may be more of an assist man than a shot guy, having Meram back, may have eased the burden and allows Santos to be the player that he is comfortable being.  Time will tell, but this fan is optimistic for what Santos can bring to the team. 

Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, and Zack Steffen have all been called up for USMNT friendlies on September 7th and 11th.  These are three players who are very deserving of call ups.  Zardes has proved that with the right team around him he is a dangerous scoring threat, scoring 15 goals thus far this season (and almost netting two more during this game).  Steffen, I believe, is the USMNT keeper of the future.  Wil Trapp is the cog of Crew SC’s midfield and can do this for the USMNT as well.

Finally, September 4th is a big day for the #SavetheCrew movement as the motion to dismiss that has been filed by PSV/MLS will be heard by a judge although it will not be likely ruled on for some time.  I encourage all fans to familiarize themselves with what Crew SC fans are going through as it could be happening to other teams in the not too distant future.  Visit savethecrew.com and learn more about the movement.

Crew SC will take on FC Dallas on Saturday, September 15th.  I’ll look forward to Crew SC’s continued momentum towards the playoffs.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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#NYCFCInk: These colors don’t run – featuring Colin Harte

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
NYCFC Official Photographer

By Tisha Gale // @TishaGale

The tradition of permanently decorating one’s body, whether through simple or elaborate designs, can be traced back through the history of human existence. For the longest while, it was believed that tattooing originated with the Egyptians around 2000 B.C. However, a more recent discovery has proven the invalidity of this belief. Through carbon dating of a corpse with distinctive markings, which was accidentally found in 1991 by two hikers, the current consensus is that human tattooing can be dated back as far as 5,200 years ago (Lineberry, 2007).

Tattooing is an art form that has lived on through time for several millenniums. Today, people from all different walks of life continue to permanently adorn their bodies with unique markings and designs, which are meant to express their personal preferences and individual interests.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC Ink/mlsfemale
Image of Colin Harte: @TishaGale

For Colin Harte, tattoos are important because of the stories they tell and the memories they hold. His first tattoo, a clover with the New York Giants symbol in the middle, holds a special place in his heart—“it is a family thing.” (@colinmouth) His family has had season tickets for the Giants since the ‘30s when his grandfather worked for the team. If there is one thing Colin’s family knows how to do, it’s proudly support their favorite teams.

Along with the Giants, Colin’s other teams are the Tottenham Hotspur and New York City F.C (NYCFC), the latter of which he is a founding member.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC Ink/mlsfemale
Image: @TishaGale

Colin’s left arm boasts a beautiful display of a few of his favorite things. A colorful guitar accentuates a combination piece featuring the aforementioned soccer teams, which he had done in November of 2016. Together, these tattoos make up the beginnings of a beautiful sleeve.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC Ink/mlsfemale
Image of Colin’s arms: @TishaGale

“I have been a fan [of NYCFC] since the moment I heard that the club would exist. My girlfriend and I, as well as another great friend of mine, have tickets in section 233A at Yankee Stadium and we are normally the loudest and most delightfully obnoxious supporters there. We can’t help but be passionate for better or worse.” – Colin Harte 

Tisha Gale - NYCFC Ink/mlsfemale
Colin with girlfriend, Stefanie and friend, Sean at an NYCFC game. Image: @colinmouth

When asked what his fondest NYCFC memory is, Colin couldn’t just choose one.

“First has to be the Thursday night match in the first season where the legend of Poku really took off. Poku sealed the win that night against D.C United with a goal in the 88’ min after already bagging an assist to Tommy Mac.”

Colin’s second fondest memory, “Travelling with the away supporters to Philly last year and witnessing King Villa’s 50-yard bomb into the back of the goal.”

On our stroll through Central Park, Colin beamed with pride as he talked about his favorite teams and what it means to be a supporter. His hope is to instill the same loyalty towards a sports team that his family instilled in him. As his grandfather did with the Giants, Colin’s goal is to pass on his NYCFC season tickets to future generations of Hartes. Traditions are clearly very important to Colin. His tattoos serve as a reminder of those values of loyalty and tradition that are so greatly treasured.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC Ink/mlsfemale
“And my heart stays in the lead”. Image: @TishaGale

When Colin isn’t obsessing over his favorite sports teams, he spends his time playing the bass guitar in four different bands.

Reference:

NYCFC x Skull sticker designed by Stefanie Suppa @stefsuppa

Lineberry, C. (2007, January 1). Tattoos. The Ancient and Mysterious History. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/tattoos-144038580/ 

Featured image: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @TishaGale

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The rivalry match that wasn’t for IMFC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, August 25: 3-1 Loss

At long last, Rivalry Week was upon us. This is a time Montréal Impact fans and Toronto FC fans alike look to on the calendar upon its release, because the feeling is fierce. Beyond the two clubs, beyond sport as a whole, a cultural rivalry between Montréal and Toronto has simmered for countless years. To say that rivalry matches are special ones is an enormous understatement.

As Toronto spent a large part of the season on their heels, with the Impact the higher-placed team in the Eastern Conference, fans looked toward the road match with particular delight. BMO Field is notably hostile to Montréal, with the Impact having won there only twice, but what better time was there to put a nail in the coffin of a rival’s playoff hopes?

On Saturday, Rémi Garde presented his lineup an hour before the match, and it was a baffling one. Ignacio Piatti was placed as the central striker, with Saphir Taïder shifting from central midfield to the left wing of the typical 4-3-3. I stared stupefied at such a lineup wondering if Garde was a genius or a madman. Our two Designated Players were moved out of position, and the weakened midfield core would have a Herculean task ahead of them to try and dictate play.

The fact that the lineup did not work was evident from the start. TFC’s 4-4-2 diamond populated the midfield, and it was too much for Piette, Azira and Krolicki to gain any control over play. The Impact were clearly out-of-sync, and lingered too long in making crucial decisions which led to turnovers. Their lethargic start – yet another one! – was punished by 3 TFC goals within 30 minutes of play. It was as though any play a Bleu-Blanc-Noir player attempted was the wrong one.

Shortly after the home team took a 3-0 lead, Alejandro Silva scored a wonderful counterattack goal to light a glimmer of hope that Montréal could find a way back into the match. The end of the first half would see the Impact hit the woodwork on a free kick, and have two goals disallowed for offside.

Quincy Amarikwa came on for the thoroughly overwhelmed Ken Krolicki at the start of the second half, allowing Taïder to move into a more effective role, and the Impact laid siege to the Toronto half of the field for the final 45 minutes. However, no Impact player was able to make the difference. A succession of corner kicks went unclaimed, and for the goals that needed to be scored, disturbingly few balls entered the 18-yard box, as players elected to dither around the edges until they turned over possession.

In the wake of the defeat, blame is being thrown around all over the place. Piatti had a truly disastrous evening, one of his worst in recent memory – how did he remain out there for 90 minutes? The Impact players were incredibly slow and made poor decision after poor decision – what was going through their heads? Once again, the Impact’s lack of a proper striker was glaringly obvious – how did the ball get dropped on such a crucial role to fill during the transfer window?

This match was of enormous importance, both for team pride and in the playoff race – why did Garde choose such a match to experiment with his lineup? We likely won’t get answers to many of these questions, certainly none that will satisfy Impact fans.

The Impact’s fate is essentially out of their hands now, even though they are 4 points clear of the playoff line. The teams chasing them all have at least two games in hand, as do fifth-placed Philadelphia. The Impact now have to contend with a venerable New York Red Bulls side next Saturday, who will have even less mercy for an ill-prepared team with a shaky mentality.

Featured image: @torontofc

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The one where we refuse to cry “Unkel!”(NYCFC tie RBNY 1-1)

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Going into Wednesday’s game against regional rival New York Red Bulls, New York City Football Club had a few challenges: Namely 5 injured players and one red card suspension. NYCFC coach Domènec Torrent chose to utilize a 3-4-3 starting formation clearly to work around the absence of injured defender Alex Callens.

The real highlights of this drag down, dirty, chippy fight, also known as the Hudson River Derby, happen to be the reactions by NYC to the obstacles thrown at them in facing the Red Bulls this go-round. In many ways this felt like we were spectating a live action video game, one where the difficulty level for NYCFC was slowly cranked up to the “un-winnable” level:

  • Level 1- RBNY forward Bradley Wright-Phillips scores a goal in the 36th minute putting NYC down a goal.
  • Level 2- In the 39th minute midfielder Eloi Amagat, in his debut game for NYCFC, gets ejected on a straight red card for a “serious foul”. No cards had been shown to anyone prior to this.  City was now playing down a player.
  • Level 3- Goal scoring machine Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is subbed out in the second half bringing in Jo Inge Berget to replace him.  Was this tactical or is Isi hurt again?
  • Level 4- In the 51st minute, David Villa gave the fans another taste of his brilliance with a volley shot on a header pass by Berget which flew under the grasp of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.  Level cleared! Game tied 1-1 but Berget is subbed off 10 minutes later presumably due to an injury.
  • Level 5a- Warning: Nobody has ever gotten past this level Around the 70th minute on a breakaway foot race between Wright-Phillips and Ebenezer Ofori, the Red Bull went down on contact and refused to get up, despite lack of a call and the continued play.  When medics came on to the field to tend to him (and seemed to stay on the field, despite the teams setting up for the re-start), it was clear that Wright-Phillips was not going off the field despite no card being shown.  Fans and players were yelling for him and his medic to leave the field.  It appeared that this angered referee Ted Unkel, who then had a sudden change of heart and sent the play to VAR to be analyzed (by the universally scorned Mark Geiger).  This resulted in Ofori being issued a red card for “stomping” on Wright-Phillips’ leg.  I challenge anyone watching the replay to come to this conclusion.  It’s very hard to stomp a moving object when your eyes are focused elsewhere and you are also losing your footing.  NYCFC was now down 2 players with at least 20 minutes to go, including injury time.
  •  Level 5b- aka Adding Insult to Injury – As Ofori leaves the field, Villa expresses his displeasure with the call and is issued a yellow card.  Somehow Kemar Lawrence goes toward Villa, which Anton Tinnerholm intercepts and gets struck in the neck by Lawrence, who stunningly only receives a yellow card.
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First-row action. Image: Keira Smith

With the game seemingly out of control and all sense of right, wrong, justice and fairness eliminated,  all fans could do was stand, scream and cheer our hearts out in support of our team.  They had to know that we were with them while they played the terrible hand they were dealt.  Every play destroyed by a City defender and every attacking sequence was met by deafening roars from the crowd.  We were going to will the players to survive this battle.

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New York is Blue. Image: Keira Smith

They say a lot of things about what you learn about yourself and your supporters when you’re up against the ropes, facing your greatest challenges.  NYCFC dug deep and boy, did that tie feel like a win.

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Felt like a win. Image: Keira Smith

Images by Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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