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.
— American Soccer Analysis (@AnalysisEvolved) July 17, 2018
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.
We’ve been talking about being this #NYCFCFamily for years, and now it’s time to prove it.
— Nick Chávez (@NickChavezMLS) September 3, 2018
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.
All images: @TishaGale
Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith
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