Category Archives: New York City FC

New York City FC

Derby Fatigue: A Morality Play

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Sunday, August 6: 3-2 Win

New York City FC walked into yet another meeting with their bitter cross-state-lines rivals this weekend. Though it was only the fourth time they’d confronted the New York Red Bulls this year alone, it felt like the fortieth. Before the whistle blew, everyone formed a circle on the hallowed ground of Yankee Stadium and held their hands, alternating blue and red, blue and red, blue and red. They solemnly vowed to not meet again until next season because enough is enough, and then the whistle blew.

The boys in blue enjoyed a rousing game of aggressive football. Though Bradley Wright-Phillips did his best to one-up David Villa goal for goal, he was no match. Their nemeses exited Yankee Stadium with defeat bitter on their tongues as NYCFC celebrated their comeback win.

“It’s possible you are a robot whose sole purpose in life is to play football,” a reporter told Villa after the game before his thought petered out into a nervous laugh. “But that’s crazy, right?”

With no life behind his eyes and the chants of the crowd still ringing in his ears, Villa smiled. “Yes. So crazy.”

He resisted the urge to say he was human, because that’s exactly what a robot would say.

All looked to be peaceful at last in the land of New York… Until Don Garber rode in on his highest of horses and slammed his ruby-and-sapphire-encrusted staff into the ground.

“No!” he bellowed to the heavens, shaking the cherubs (who, strangely enough, all looked like Yangel Herrera before he grew his baby beard) from their slumber. “No, I demand more rivalry weeks! I demand revenue! I demand MLS be taken seriously, but mostly I demand revenue! You shall meet again! YOU SHALL ALL MEET AGAIN.”

He disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The horse remained.

“I don’t particularly want to be doing this again,” Jack Harrison said in his piping voice, like a lovely caged songbird who will inevitably be released soon for a lot of money.

Patrick Vieira lifted his gaze to the skies, searching for any sign of their overlord only to find none. “We must,” he sighed Frenchly. “The Don commands it.”

“It won’t be so bad.” David Villa threw everyone a roguish grin. “You have me, so.”

Yes, he was indeed the hero of the night. Not one goal, not two goals, but three goals found their way from his anointed foot to the back of the net. His first hattrick! Surely there would be much jubilation tonight. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but you’d never know it by looking at their captain, indefatigable and effervescent as ever.

“Somebody should probably take care of that horse,” Alex Ring pointed out, because he’s perfect and the only one with his priorities straight.

“I want to ride it.”

“Maxi, that’s dangerous.”

“Let me ride the horse.”

“No, Maxi. He’ll stomp you. You’re a quarter of his height!”

With no warning, the horse let out a mighty whinny and shook its glorious star-spangled mane. From its tresses fell– a check for extra allocation money to sign a new right-back?

No. No such luck. It was merely a note straight from The MLS Mechanism Room. With the collected calm of a man no longer burdened by his own flowing locks, Tommy McNamara picked it up from the ground and read it aloud to the group:

THE NEXT TIME YOU MEET WILL BE IN LESS THAN THREE WEEKS. THE HUDSON RIVER DERBIES WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES. NO GODS, NO MASTERS. IN NEW YORSEY WE DIE LIKE MEN.

C.M. Brandon - New York City FC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Daily Mail

Andrea Pirlo awoke from his nap just in time to hear the news. “Very ominous,” he deadpanned. Nobody knew if he was being sarcastic or not. Nobody dared to ask.

For as much as they may have wanted to rally against the forces of the universe, they knew deep into their hearts that it would be futile. No man can supersede The Don. Many among their own ranks had tried, and where were they now? Gothenburg. Salt Lake City. Orlando. Retired, which everyone knows is a code word for something much more sinister.

No, to stay alive in New York City, one must play the hand they’re dealt. And if that means every other match being a Hudson River Derby to appease the whims of a fickle federation, then so be it. They had to accept their fate, prepare for their trip to the west coast and begin to brainstorm a way to defend their derby title, short-lived as it may be.

Still, nothing could take the night’s victory from them. As they headed out into the dusky evening, nineteen men and one mysterious horse, they did so with one immutable truth burning at the forefront of their minds:

New York is blue.

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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Let Alex Ring Score

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Wednesday, July 19: 2-2 Draw

Am I happy we drew against a severely depleted Toronto FC at home when it was maybe our best chance to take three points during this particular stretch of games? No. But did I call it? Yes. Yes, I absolutely did. If you listened to the episode of Blue Balls NYCFC that I guested on, you’ll know that while Trey was cautiously optimistic NYCFC could pull off the win, I reached deep into my inner god mind, called upon my infinite knowledge of the football world, and proclaimed that the match would end in a 2-2 draw.

Not to toot my own horn, but beep beep.

This is just another entry into the long string of things I regret predicting in football. Eventually I will learn to keep my mouth shut and stop putting my divine will out into the universe before it can take shape and become reality. One day, maybe. But that day is not today!

NYCFC conceded early (again) and pulled back a late first half equalizer (again) before taking the lead in the second half (again) — and then it all fell to pieces when Toronto FC clawed their way back on the board with a late, late, late game penalty. By that point there was no magic left to be worked, and so the draw felt like a loss, and we all hung our heads in shame. So it goes.

I could go over the minute details of the game — how lovely it is to have Sean Johnson back after his early release from the USMNT Gold Cup squad, how loudly I screamed when RJ Allen casually passed the ball straight to Giovinco right outside our box, how David Villa and Maxi Moralez made a mess of TFC’s defense, how our substitutions may be our weakest point and how our bench depth is starting to suffer as more players get injured on international duty (R.I.P. RodWal and Camargo) — but it would be a waste of your time, and mine.

 

Instead, I’d like to tackle the real issue at NYCFC that nobody is talking about:

Every day Alex Ring does not score his first goal for this club is another day we crawl closer to endtimes, and I’m not about to let the world go down in flames before I see that kindly Finnish cherub get his golden goal.

Not all midfielders are goalscorers. Most of my favorite midfielders aren’t! In fact, Ring’s goal-scoring record prior to coming to NYCFC isn’t anything impressive, but from what I understand of his history, that’s hardly his fault. Here, he’s settled in with a guaranteed starting position and a coach who believes in him, and he is hungry for goals.

It’s plain to see in every match he plays, but none more so than this one. Toward the end of the first half, Ring fired a cracking shot on goal from quite a ways out. It ended with little fanfare, but what it could have been lifted all our hearts. Ring really wants that goal. We really want it for him.

Thus, I present to you:

An Abbreviated List of Things That Will Happen Before Alex Ring Scores His First NYCFC Goal

Pirlo scores his second NYCFC goal.

LA Galaxy and LAFC announce the joint signing of Zlatan Ibrahimović, because one club is not big enough to contain Zlatan.

Poku wins the Ballon d’Or (as he should).

FIFA relocates the 2022 World Cup.

Mix Diskerud makes his triumphant return to MLS.

The Nutmeg News gets a print magazine. (This isn’t meant to be shady. I really do wish this could happen.)

Miami FC gets off the ground, enters MLS as an expansion club, and uses pre-recorded stadium announcements in David Beckham’s nasally squeaky balloon animal voice during halftime.

NYCFC gets past the first round of the U.S. Open Cup.

NYCFC wins the U.S. Open Cup.

NYCFC wins the U.S. Open Cup in a stunning 9-0 thrashing of the New York Red Bulls, proving karmic justice exists and the good guy wins in the end.

Someone finally breaks into The MLS Mechanism Room and frees Chicharito, who has been trapped there since the summer of 2015.

My bot child accurately predicts a transfer.

Women’s football is given truly equal representation, respect and remuneration.

Khiry Shelton returns from injury.

Single-payer healthcare.

David Villa’s retirement.

The inevitable heat death of the universe.

My next NYCFC recap. Just kidding! But I am going on a long-awaited vacation and will not be back until our penultimate Hudson River Derby on August 6. If Alex Ring scores during my absence, I will calmly walk directly into the ocean and never resurface again. No pressure.

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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Carthage, Thy Name Is NYCFC

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Wednesday, July 5: 3-2 Loss

Ahh, I am sufficiently entertained.

Obviously, New York City FC should have waltzed into BC Place and shaken the Vancouver Whitecaps down for three points. It would’ve been the perfect start to a truly hellish calendar month (no big deal, we’re just staring down the barrel of Toronto… and Chicago… and Toronto again… oh, and the third Hudson River Derby). NYCFC could have taken solace in three road points before the long break.

Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, absolutely didn’t.

But it was so fun.

The sort of fun you have at an amateur roller derby match. You go into it knowing you’re going to see people get messy and fight hard, and you’ve resigned yourself to how much you enjoy this particular brand of rowdy garbage. You can justify it to yourself by saying you’re here because everyone shows so much passion and heart, but at the end of the day you’re here for the carnage, and it’s great.

Aside from a few sparks of brilliance here and there, NYCFC and Vancouver did not play beautiful football on this fine evening. They cracked their knuckles and pummeled one another into submission. After NYCFC conceded within the first three minutes (thanks to a tremendous slip-up from the normally infallible Alex Ring) it was game on. The boys in blue clamored all over one another in the box to score the equalizer, which ended up being credited to Maxime Chanot. All good, right?

No, you fool. This is MLS. It’s never all good. Bring on the controversial referee decisions!

I can’t make myself care about arguing ref calls. Nothing interests me less. Every league and every tournament has its share of awful refereeing, and I just… I don’t care, friends. I’m positive there was a fair amount of argument over NYCFC being awarded a penalty after Tommy McNamara and David Ousted collided, because that’s how football fans work, but I put on my blinders and saw none of it.

I did see David Villa convert his penalty to put NYCFC ahead before the break. I also saw the rising tensions and fighting, at which point I went into full raucous hooligan mode and decided I was only in this match for the bloodbath.

The second half saw both teams running each other ragged, but it was Vancouver that capitalized on NYCFC’s embarrassment of missed chances. After their equalizer (which I missed, due to jamming out on an intense air saxophone solo, and I honestly regret nothing) it was only a matter of time until they broke the boys in blue down one last time. Even after Eirik Johansen made a truly stunning save in the 85th minute, they kept knocking at NYCFC’s door until it broke down, and in the dying minutes of the game Vancouver came out on top.

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: @NYCFC

It was a breathless match, and despite the loss, it was some of the most fun I’ve had watching NYCFC this season. Maybe I was just really in the mood for some chaos. Who knows.

In conclusion:

Let’s round things off with just a few random thoughts:

  • How much time do you think Yangel Herrera has spent watching old clips of David Villa at FC Barcelona? I only ask because he did his best Vintage Diving Villa impression during this match. It was comical how hard he went down, how dramatically he clutched at his face after it got… breathed on, at most. I love it. I’m here for it.
  • Alex Ring didn’t have the best match of his life, if we’re being kind. But who cares? Off the pitch, he’s still an angel. He recently posted on Instagram about a girl named Kia who has battled cancer for most of her young life. With no treatment options left, her final dream is to see the Statue of Liberty. Ring reached out to Kia’s family and invited them to be his guest in New York City and to have Kia accompany him at Yankee Stadium. The next day, he updated everyone via his Story that Kia’s family had taken him up on the offer. It’s an incredible gesture that warmed my bitter little coffee bean heart, and I’m so looking forward to seeing it come to fruition.
  • In less emotional news… I long for another Pirlo goal. Please let us have one before he’s gone forever.

Have you subscribed to Blue Balls NYCFC yet? You should! That way you’ll be notified when their next episode goes up, wherein yours truly will be joining Trey Fillmore to look back on this match, then ahead to the game against Toronto on the 19th. Given what a glorious hysterical mess tonight was, it’s bound to be a banger of an episode.

And now we break for the group stage of the Gold Cup. If you, like me, have no particular loyalty to any CONCACAF national team, Elliott Turner‘s Gold Cup guide for neutrals is fantastic. Vamos Curaçao! Why not?

Rest easy before the gauntlet begins again. See you all when Toronto FC comes to town!

Featured image courtesy: Anne-Marie Sorvin

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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Pigeons vs. Loons

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Thursday, June 29: 3-1 Win

Welcome to the Bird Cup!

I love a meaningless barely-rivalry as much as the next person. Why let it be just another match when you could dress it up with a funny name? Why focus on the game when you could be imagining a tiny fat pigeon pecking a loon’s eyes out? Yes, the loon used its trickery and wiles to gain the upper hand at first, but never doubt the tenacity of a pigeon. A pigeon will wait for hours beneath a cafe table just to steal bits of scone. A pigeon will capitalize at the moment you least expect and leave a loon stranded, adrift, hopeless.

It’s been a long month, my friends. This is where I’m at these days.

Semi-related to all of the above, New York City FC took on Minnesota United FC for the first time, one expansion team opening its arms to another. The Loons are definitely still finding their footing in MLS, and they entered Yankee Stadium without a single win on the road. They were hungry to change this from the outset, and two immediate issues arose that led to them taking the lead over the Pigeons:

  1. Sean Johnson, bless his heart, has been called up for the USMNT Gold Cup squad. Knowing that he’ll most likely fill the role of Mr. Not Appearing In This Tournament is a double-edged sword of suck: He’ll be languishing on the bench while NYCFC trudges on without him. More on Eirik Johansen‘s performance later, but the simple fact is that we’ve briefly entered the Johansen Years, and it is rough.
  2. Rónald Matarrita returned from injury and re-injured himself within the first ten minutes. According to post-match reports, he was wearing a boot and on crutches. This shakes up our defense yet again.

Johansen buttered his gloves before the match, bungled a save in the most spectacular of ways and let Minnesota take the lead early on in the first half. Every time the camera panned to him in goal, he looked positively shaken. He managed to pull it together later in the match and made a couple of critical saves (and, yes, one more butterfingers moment that we’re lucky didn’t cost us again) but boy, it was a shaky match at best. Maybe more consistent playing time while Johnson is away will lead to more confidence and consistent performance, but then again, maybe this is just Johansen. We have to find out the hard way.

However, I firmly believe that the way a fanbase treats its goalie when the score is down speaks volumes. While the ribbing over his howler won’t stop any time soon, the NYCFC faithful remained supportive of Johansen while he got his bearing, and for that I’m proud.

The boys in blue didn’t let the early concession affect their mentality and kept their focus. Was the first half still a sloppy mess? Oh, absolutely. But it had heart — and that relentless, persistent pursuit of some semblance of cohesion was what eventually led to Alexander Callens‘ equalizer. The play between Callens and Ben Sweat (who racked up his fourth assist of the season!) was gorgeous and truly not something I would have expected from either of them based on their earlier performances. Patrick Vieira has put his faith in these boys, and they’re paying it back in dividends. It warms my exhausted little heart.

From then on, it was NYCFC’s game to lose. Comebacks in Yankee Stadium seem to be de rigueur now, and while David Villa may not be pleased with that, you won’t see me complaining — I love a good remontada.

C.M. Brandon - New York City FC/mlsfemale

When Rodney Wallace sent in a superb cross, nobody could have predicted that Jack Harrison would go for the low header. But he did, aiming it with perfect precision and bouncing it just past the keeper. NYCFC went full throttle once they had the lead, and it was Villa — who else? — who put it to bed just past the hour mark. He nutmegged, he danced around defenders, he struck the ball with his so-called “weaker” foot, and he scored his 52nd goal for New York City FC. Are you really surprised?

I’m still concerned about our defense and goalkeeper situations, but if NYCFC can keep a good head on their shoulders like they did today, I think we can make it through the summer mostly intact.

And maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll spend one brief and shining moment atop the table.

I promise I won’t fall asleep before I give you some random thoughts:

  • Every time I remember Yangel Herrera will be going back to Manchester City after this season, I get so very sad all over again. That kid lives his life in beast mode, and he’s a genuine pleasure to watch. His midfield link-up with Alex Ring? Phenomenal. I could watch it all day. Do you think there’s any chance we can save him from The Clutches Of Pep and sign him permanently?
  • How does Alexander Callens wind down after kicking his team into high gear to secure a decisive win at home? So glad you asked. With some Crash Bandicoot, of course. I told you guys he has my favorite social media presence right now.
  • Oh, we signed the kid! That happened. 16 year old James Sands, who spent preseason traveling with the team, has officially been signed as NYCFC’s first ever homegrown player. This profile on him is incredibly sweet, and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the team.
  • PIRLO RETURNED AND IT WAS GOOD.
  • Four consecutive wins! One more win and we set a new record! God that really is kind of sad but also pretty exciting!
  • Ha ha ha we won the derby, ha ha ha New York is blue, ha ha ha I still haven’t been able to watch a replay of that match but I hear it was excellent, ha ha ha!

No fireworks and cookouts for the boys in blue next week; they’ll be in Vancouver, getting ready to extend their winning streak against the Whitecaps. Join me in cautious optimism while luxuriating in this not-quite-three-day-but-eh-close-enough-I-guess weekend!

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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Winning While Waterlogged

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Saturday, June 17: 2-1 Win

This game should not have been played.

It’s great that it was, considering NYCFC came away with three crucial points to propel them to third place in the Eastern Conference and overall, but at the end of the day it really should not have continued past half-time. It poured buckets on Yankee Stadium, and the pitch more resembled a small lake than anything else. Players were kicking up waves of water when they went for the ball, which often skidded to a stop long before it reached its destination. At one point is was said that the match would be suspended if the ball stopped moving entirely.

Which… happened. And yet the match continued! Whatever, I guess. Let the water ballet commence.

Both teams had difficulty acclimating to the conditions, which made for a match that was somehow both extremely sloppy and woefully boring to watch. Aside from the slow-motion loping across the pitch that led to Cristian Roldan‘s goal, very little in the first half stood out. NYCFC’s best (read: least awful) chance came during stoppage time, when David Villa pinged the ball off the crossbar.

There was some concern bubbling up that it would be another one of Those Matches for NYCFC, coming hot off the heels of the U.S. Open Cup loss to the New York Red Bulls. Missed chances, deflections off the post, and bad luck compounding on top of awful weather. Nobody wanted to see that again. We came to be entertained.

Villa heard the call, come on New York, and he responded in kind.

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image of David Villa courtesy: @NYCFC

Debate all you want about NYCFC’s equalizer, which came off a penalty call early on in the second half. Contention over referee decisions is the most boring part of football to me. The only hill I’ll die on is that Villa wasn’t diving — in fact, he clearly gets up and keeps going for the ball after he gets knocked down. Which, you know. Kind of defeats the purpose of a dive. He’s grown a lot since he was going for Olympic gold in diving back at FC Barcelona, guys. He isn’t that guy anymore. (Thank god. I hated that guy.)

But nobody can deny the majesty that was Villa’s second goal of the night. Jack Harrison was at his Jack Harrisonest, coolly fighting off Seattle Sounders FC defenders to create space where no space previously existed, and when he sent the ball across the face of the goal, an entirely unmarked Villa was there to chip it in.

I find it funny that teams don’t mark Villa every second of every game. He’s the greatest DP in the history of the league, guys. If you don’t want to mark him, that’s fine, more goals for us — but it makes you look pretty foolish when he’s consistently wide open.

Regardless, that sealed the deal for NYCFC. Ugo attempted to net a third toward the end of the match, but after a great save from Stefan Frei, the ball ping-ponged about in the box to no result. Chad Marshall had Seattle’s best attempt at a final equalizer in the very last seconds of the game, but it wasn’t meant to be. After Villa’s second goal, the clouds broke over Yankee Stadium and the sun shone down on the boys in blue, weak but insistent. A sign, surely, that things were meant to go their way.

A few bits and bobs, while I have your attention:

  • David Villa now has over fifty goals for NYCFC, and you can watch them all here. Can you pick a favorite? I can’t. Every little thing he does is magic. (Also a cool stat: He’s never gone longer than a playable month without scoring since NYCFC began. What a guy.)
  • I’ve seen conflicting reports on the length of Alex Ring‘s contract with NYCFC, but whether it’s one year or two years, here’s my suggestion: Extend it for five more and keep him forever and never ever let him leave. Despite Villa’s brace, Ring was my Man of the Match against Seattle. I don’t even know how many duels he won. At some point it feels futile to keep count.
  • Alexander Callens is currently my favorite NYCFC player on social media. Why? That boy loves Dragon Ball Z. He loves it. And now he’s graduated from snapping himself drawing watching DBZ episodes and drawing DBZ characters to posting DBZ fanart of himself. I’m so endeared, it’s absurd.
  • (Disclaimer about how you could not pay me enough to care an iota about either of the US NTs goes here, and how writing about MLS does nothing to change that.) T-Mac and Sean Johnson have been named for the Gold Cup provisional squad! Who knows if they will make the final cut or not. It’s an honor just to be nominated.
  • A bit preemptive, but in July I’ll be guesting on the hilarious Blue Balls podcast! Gaby Kirschner guested on their most recent episode and it’s my favorite so far. If you’re a NYCFC fan, please give them a listen!

Next week is the Hudson River Derby (again?) at Red Bull Arena (again??) and… yours truly will be MIA due to moving house. But fear not! We do have Sylvana over in the NYRB section, who I’m sure will do a bang-up job writing about the match no matter what color New York ends up being next weekend.

It’s blue, though. It’s always blue.

Featured image courtesy: nycfc.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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U.S. Oh, Who Cares?

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Wednesday, June 14: 1-0 Loss

Honesty is my only policy, so let me start this as honestly as possible: I just don’t care about the U.S. Open Cup.

Is that a side effect of New York City FC never making it past the first game? Probably. But even if they did manage to make the third time the charm and pull through, I can all but entirely guarantee I still wouldn’t care. Cups don’t have to feel like afterthoughts to leagues — the Coppa Italia sure isn’t — but this one absolutely does. It isn’t enthralling, it isn’t interesting, and if clubs themselves don’t care, why should I?

But here we are. And to their credit, NYCFC did care this time. Patrick Vieira put out a full-force starting eleven, and the New York Red Bulls responded in kind. Looking at the lineups, you could easily mistake it for a derby in the league. (By the way, that’s in a week and a half.) So that’s nice! Great to see both teams taking the Cup seriously!

That’s about where the great things end.

The boys in blue found themselves victims of utterly terrible luck. Early on in the first half, David Villa delivered an inch-perfect pass that landed gracefully at the feet of an unmarked Tommy McNamara. T-Mac wound up, T-Mac kicked, T-Mac somehow managed to ping the ball off the crossbar, then the ground, then the crossbar again, then the ground again. A perfect vertical arc that kept the ball squarely out of the net.

From that point on, it was fated to be that kind of game. As the first half was dying down, Villa’s otherwise brilliant shot on goal deflected off the post and went straight into Ryan Meara‘s arms. At the other end of the pitch, the Red Bulls did their fair share of testing NYCFC as well. Sean Johnson made several stunning saves, and all told, it was a strong showing from both sides over those first forty-five minutes.

Then Maxi Moralez went down with an injury before the break, and things rapidly fell apart.

There’s not much that can be said about the second half. With John Stertzer coming in to replace Maxi (and only lasting twenty weak minutes before getting subbed off himself) the midfield couldn’t connect, and NYCFC were pinned back in their own half more often than not. It was only a matter of time before the Red Bulls beat them back, and god, did they ever.

In typical gutsy fashion, Johnson came off his line to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips, leaving an open goal that Daniel Royer capitalized on. Though we could all feel a Red Bulls goal coming, I wish it hadn’t been that kind of goal. It was embarrassing to be caught with an empty net, and what little Frédéric Brillant did to try to defend the line in Johnson’s stead was… well, too little by far.

Losing to the Red Bulls is familiar in the worst way. But, you know… It’s the Open Cup. Who cares?

Get it together for the derby, boys. Hit them where it really counts.

I can spare you a random thought or two:

  • Maxime Chanot picked up a hamstring injury during the international break, and I don’t think I’m being melodramatic when I say I want to burn down our back line without him. Too much? I don’t care. Bring back Mad Maxime!
  • Obvious observation is obvious, but Stertzer’s substitution was useless and wasted a potentially valuable slot that could have been used to bring in Jon Lewis or Ugo sooner. I want to understand Vieira’s substitution logic, but sometimes I just don’t.
  • Saturday’s game against the Seattle Sounders also happens to fall on NYCFC’s Pride Day. In general, the commercialization of Pride is something I am entirely against — but NYCFC does a good job of not turning it into a cash grab, which they so easily could. As a queer football fan, seeing a team acknowledge the LGBTQIA+ history of the city they inhabit and the very real, very passionate sector of their fanbase is so heartening. To be acknowledged and validated is invaluable. Personally, I can’t wait for NYCFC’s first ever Pride Day. I have a feeling it’s going to be something really special. (And if we win on top of it, all the better!)
  • Anyway, who here’s seen The Producers? When I think of NYCFC and the U.S. Open Cup, I think of this:grx32x04r7yxez

For the next few days I’ll be salting the earth and praying that Nicolás Lodeiro doesn’t do Nicolás Lodeiro things to us when the Sounders come to town. Please, join me.

See you then!

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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They Shaved Paradise

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Saturday, June 3: 2-1 win

New York City FC came up from behind to defeat Philadelphia Union with late game goals by defenders Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens, propelling them to second place in the Eastern Conference.

This pleases me. This pleases all of us.

However, there cannot be too much jubilation. It’s important to remember that this week, NYCFC suffered a tremendous loss.

Cult favorite, club legend, West Nyack’s own Tommy McNamara cut his hair.

If you’re suffering anywhere near as much as I am, I’d like to offer you a brief respite:

(Though TMac did earn his first USMNT call-up after shearing himself, so maybe his hair isn’t the source of his power? No. I refuse to believe this.)

Stay strong, everyone. We’ll all get through this together. See you next week for the U.S. Open Cup!

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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Mid-Week Mediocrity

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Wednesday, May 31: 2-2 Draw

Let’s not beat around the bush: New York City FC should have handily won this match. New England Revolution are a bit of a mess this season, having only won four games so far — and all four were at home, to boot.

Despite early energy and pressure that led to a brilliant piece of link-up play between David Villa and Jack Harrison to give Jack his sixth goal this season, NYCFC couldn’t quite keep a grip on a lead. The Revs scored their first equalizer off of a set piece… which is a point of endless frustration for NYCFC this year. Sean Johnson made several spectacular saves on his birthday, but he wasn’t able to keep out Kei Kamara‘s header. NYCFC’s extremely poor marking during the corner didn’t help him at all. That’s why set pieces break us. We just don’t know how to handle them, so it becomes a cheap and easy way for opponents to get goals.

NYCFC seemed to play two separate games during this match. In their own half of the pitch, they were sluggish and lackluster. But once they crossed that midfield line, the fire was lit and the chase was on. Even a little bit of that attacking energy being present in the defending half would have made all the difference.

 

A little more focus during attack wouldn’t hurt either. There was a moment toward the end of the first half when Ben Sweat and Villa both whiffed clear chances right in front of goal. It’s those missed opportunities that come back to haunt you after the scoreline is finalized, and NYCFC will definitely be battling off those ghosts tonight.

Cometh the hour, cometh the one bright spot in this match: Miguel Camargo entered to take Tommy McNamara‘s place, and scored his first MLS goal not three minutes later. He found himself on the end of a gorgeous long cross from Maxi Moralez and headed it straight into goal. It was a lovely moment, and hopefully the first of many Camargoals to come.

#CM2
Image courtesy: @NYCFC

Had the Revs’ second equalizer not come quite so late, I do think NYCFC could have pulled off a last minute win. But with just four minutes left in the match, there simply wasn’t enough time for NYCFC to pull off a coherent counter attack. They tried their absolute hardest, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe if there had been another ten minutes or so on the clock. Maybe. Shoulda, coulda, woulda — didn’t.

So, after four road matches in two weeks, an exhausted NYCFC only managed to squeak out one point at home. That’s a crying shame, and the boys in blue know it. They hurried off the pitch after the final whistle, made their way to a dressing room filled with silent tension. There’s nothing worse than letting down the fans at home — because even though it was a draw, it still felt a hell of a lot like a loss.

Before I go gently into the good night, a few stray thoughts:

  • Rónald Matarrita is still too injured to be on our bench, but not too injured to be called up for Costa Rica’s World Cup qualifiers next week? Okay…
  • In the vein of international football, a quick tip for commentators: Balkans really hate it when you talk about what a great national team Yugoslavia would have, had they only managed to keep those pesky wars from ripping the country apart. Maybe don’t do that. (This came up because the Revs have Antonio Delamea Mlinar, the first Slovene to play in MLS. That fact made me feel positively toward the Revs for the first time in my life.)
  • Until the Revs scored their 2-2 equalizer, NYCFC remained the only club in MLS yet to concede a goal in the final fifteen minutes of a match. And then there were none.
  • Camargo aside, the name of the game this time around was Questionable Substitutions. Frédéric Brillant coming on for Harrison could hypothetically be seen as an attempt to preserve our lead, as attack off/defense on subs often are, but then you remember that Brillant is Brillant and that logic doesn’t hold any water. But sure, in some alternate universe that substitution made sense. You’ll never sell me on poor erstwhile John Stertzer for RodWal in the dying minutes of regulation time, though. If the idea was to try for a last ditch winner, why take off one of the most tenacious players on the pitch for Stertzer? Why? Why, Grand-Père Patrick? Please tell me why.
  • Speaking of, the rumors about Vieira leaving to manage Some French Club (because to speak its name would give it power and we simply cannot have that) can chill out anytime now. While I like to critique (read: backseat manage) him occasionally, there’s no denying that Vieira has been integral to NYCFC’s success, and he should at least be able to finish out the season.

And that’s a wrap on another week of mediocrity at best, bitter disappointment at worst! In just a few days, the boys in blue will take on Philadelphia Union at home.

Which happens to overlap with the Champions League final.

So if I survive that, I’ll meet up with you all here on Sunday, hopefully with three points to celebrate.

(Forza Juve!)

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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Happy Birthday, NYCFC!

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Sunday, May 21: 0-3 Win

NARRATOR: Previously, on Reverse Psychology FC…

SEPIA FLASHBACK C.M.: I fully expect NYCFC to roll over and show their belly and lose 17-0. Wink.

NARRATOR: Finally, our intrepid heroine has learned from her mistakes.

Four years ago, New York City FC was officially announced as an expansion club. May 21st is, for all intents and purposes, NYCFC’s birthday — and what would be a better birthday gift than breaking the Orlando City SC curse?

That’s right, the sixth time’s the charm! Wins have always eluded the boys in blue when they make the trip down to Orlando — indeed, wins against Orlando City have eluded them in general this season alone, having already suffered two defeats. But finally, finally, they walked into that purple dungeon and came away with all three points.

Patrick Vieira continued to rotate his squad during this rash of away games, albeit a bit more cautiously than he did in the previous match. Maxime Chanot and Ben Sweat slotted in to bolster the defense, the usual attacking trident of Jack Harrison, David Villa and Rodney Wallace returned well rested and ready for action, and perhaps most excitingly, Mikey Lopez got his first start of the season to replace an injured Andrea Pirlo in midfield.

Mikey has been one of my favorite NYCFC players since his first match last season. I have a weakness for spritely, intelligent midfielders. Plus, his energy on and off the pitch is pure positivity. Mikey is fun. His injury and subsequent ankle surgery back in January were a huge blow for NYCFC. While he may not always feature regularly as a starter, Mikey is a mercenary in the midfield and we were all looking forward to having him around to help jump start the season. Now that he’s back, he’s providing exactly what I hoped: Frenetic energy, relentless pace, and quite a few risky slide tackles. (Hey, I’m not mad at those.) I’m so happy to have him back, and I know I’m not the only one.

David Villa opened the scoring early in the second half after a handball from Kaká drew a penalty for NYCFC. Orlando City never let off the gas and did their best to pull one back, but before half-time Rodney Wallace found himself on the scoring end of a truly glorious team goal. Jack Harrison laid off a beautiful pass to Ethan White, who delivered an inch-perfect cross straight across the face of goal for RodWal. It was a thing of beauty.

Orlando City had a chance to claw their way back in the second half with a penalty of their own, but it was never meant to be. Cyle Larin shot straight at the post, and to be frank, it felt like a bit of karmic justice for the three goals he’s already scored on us this season. Villa eventually wrapped it up with a lovely little one-on-one against the keeper, and that was that. NYCFC scored three goals and netted three crucial points. The curse has officially been lifted.

The match wasn’t NYCFC’s strongest for the full ninety minutes and Orlando City put up more than their fair share of a fight, yet we still managed to pull off the win. Sometimes I enjoy that more than a sound thumping of the opposing team. The loss against Real Salt Lake may have been a wake up call for the boys in blue to play with conviction again, and they delivered.

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Alex Ring’s Instagram

Here, have a few stray thoughts:

  • Mikey Lopez was a wonderful complement to Alex Ring in the midfield. They both worked themselves to the bone to recover the ball throughout the match, and it was beautiful to watch them in tandem. I want to see more of this pairing in the future!
  • Ethan White went down in the first half with what looked to be cramps, managed to keep playing long enough to assist RodWal’s goal, and then got substituted off. Let’s all cross our fingers it isn’t anything more serious — our back line needs him (along with Maxime Chanot, who put in a superb showing to neutralize Larin throughout the match).
  • If NYCFC was brought into the world on May 21st, then that means NYCFC is a Gemini. Suddenly their hot-and-cold nature makes sense. Astrology really does answer every question!
  • On a personal note, within twelve hours I watched Juventus clinch their sixth consecutive Scudetto, Real Madrid win La Liga for the first time in five years, and NYCFC wallop Orlando City in their own home. It was a good day to be me.

Next week there’s one last away game against Atlanta United! Full disclosure, this one may slip through the cracks as I’ll be on vacation, but if it turns out to be an interesting match I’ll do my best to catch some highlights.

In the meantime: Rest, boys. That was a grueling seven days.

Featured image courtesy: Orlando Sentinel

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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Misery in Sandy

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Wednesday, May 17: 2-1 Loss

NARRATOR: Previously, on Hubris FC…

SEPIA FLASHBACK C.M.: Not to get ahead of myself, but I sense a road win for the boys in blue…

NARRATOR: She had gotten ahead of herself.

Let’s not sugarcoat it, gang. That was an unconscionably bad match!

For the second of New York City FC‘s three back-to-back away matches in one week, Patrick Vieira decided heavy rotation was the way to go. I’m all for rotation; it’s what keeps regular starters rested and fresh, and it lets the backup players shine. But for squad rotation to be an effective strategy — a strategy that produces wins — it helps to have a deep bench.

Instead, NYCFC’s lineup resembled a newborn deer trying to run on its wobbly legs. Andrea Pirlo, Maxi Moralez, Alex Ring and captain Tommy McNamara did their best to provide stability and structure, but it never quite came together. Even with Ugo Okoli‘s first MLS goal coming just three minutes in, the boys in blue couldn’t find their footing to keep up the pace.

C.M. Brandon - New York City FC/mlsfemale
First MLS goal!

Vieira did his best to mitigate the leaking ship after Real Salt Lake scored their second goal of the night and made a quick double substitution, letting David Villa and Jack Harrison off the bench and onto the pitch with their eyes on the goal. NYCFC looked markedly better in that final half hour with Villa and Harrison’s combined magic, but it was still too little, too late.

The result would be disappointing but unsurprising if it came from a team that soundly outplayed us, but ultimately Real Salt Lake weren’t even particularly strong. NYCFC just happened to be much worse. It made for a resolutely boring match that was frequently cringeworthy to watch. Between NYCFC’s defensive blunders (Maxime Chanot, you were sorely missed) and a solid performance from RSL’s veteran keeper, there was just no way we could come up from behind on this one.

To his credit, Vieira took responsibility for the thrashing NYCFC received almost immediately after the final whistle. He admitted flat out that his squad selection was off, and that he bears the blame for the loss. Disappointment in the result aside, I’ll take a manager who owns his mistakes and doesn’t throw his players under the bus any day of the week. Obviously the hope is that this was a learning opportunity for Vieira and the entire team — that player dynamics have become clearer, that it’s just as valuable to learn what doesn’t work as what does.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad. Here are a few good things to wash the bitter taste out of your mouth:

  • Ugo’s first career goal did well to show his strength and ability to hold off defenders. Of course, we all wish it had led to an avalanche of more goals — nobody likes their first tally on the score sheet to still end in a loss — but if it’s a sign of things to come from Ugo, I’m happy.
  • Alex Ring, Alex Ring, Alex Ring. Every day I grow more convinced that he’s the signing of the season for NYCFC. I can’t sing his praises enough. He’s such a solid, all-around midfielder and I’m thrilled we have him. (Also, I’m a huge fan of any footballer who encourages his daughter to play.)
  • Playing in the snowy, high elevation of Sandy isn’t ideal, but if absolutely nothing else, you have to admit that the training photos that come out of these away matches are gorgeous.
  • …I mean, nobody spent their entire match trying to stomp Maxi down into the ground this time, so that’s a plus.
  • Oh cool, we drew the NY Red Bulls for the Open Cup, of course we did, never mind, everything is fire and pain and suffering.

God only knows if we’ll see the fruits of such a painful labor this weekend against Orlando City. NYCFC has still never won there, so no pressure.

Since I clearly cursed this match last week, what if we try it the other way around this time? It’s worth a shot, right? In that case, I fully expect NYCFC to roll over and show their belly and lose 17-0. Wink.

Featured image courtesy: nycfc.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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