Earlier than the primary of two Hudson River derbies final week, Ronny Deila revealed his regular-season hopes for NYCFC.
“Our dream and goal is to be number two, of course,” he stated with the primary place New England Revolution probably out of attain.
Every week and only one level later, Deila’s NYCFC has been sucked into the chaos of the Japanese Convention. A 1-0 house loss to the Pink Bulls, on the again of a 1-1 attract New Jersey, leaves simply three factors between the crew’s third place spot and Atlanta in eighth.
A crew merely grafting for a playoff spot just isn’t how NYCFC sees itself, neither is it how it’s mirrored within the numbers. The membership comfortably leads the East in xGD/90, per FBref, because it has for a lot of the yr, and FiveThirtyEight likes them because the third-favorites to win the MLS Cup.
However the real-life image has not been as fairly within the late days of summer season. The membership has sputtered throughout August and September, profitable three of 11 video games, no because of a slew of pink card suspensions.
Whereas these are by no means the figures a title contender aspires to, that type has been magnified much more after the disappointing week their chief rivals inflicted upon NYCFC.
“We need to get over it as quickly as possible, we have a lot of disappointed people in the dressing room of course,” Deila stated after Saturday’s loss. “Now we must raise ourselves together and bounce back on Wednesday [vs. Chicago].”
With the membership nonetheless in place to host a playoff match, it’s not the time to panic. But it surely’s undoubtedly the time for introspection, and proper again Anton Tinnerholm supplied some attention-grabbing clues after the match.
“These games against the Red Bulls is just a war, they play a different style,” he stated. “It’s simply them within the league who play like this and on a small pitch like this, immediately they managed it higher than we did.
“The Red Bull games are special because they press all over the pitch and you don’t have that time with the ball and you can’t control the game that we want, especially at home.”
Saturday’s loss was only one recreation, however the Pink Bulls’ capability to unnerve their rivals ought to be considerably of a wakeup name. It’s true that the Pink Bulls — with essentially the most center third and second-most attacking third pressures this season — do play a singular excessive urgent model that makes it troublesome for opponents to progress the ball (particularly with starter Keaton Parks suspended Saturday). It’s additionally true that this deep NYCFC roster, which fancies itself as a contender, wants to seek out options in powerful matches.
Whether or not or not these solutions are simpler to return by within the remaining months of the season (and sure postseason) stays to be seen, however for now, Pink Bulls supervisor Gerhard Struber deserves credit score for making final Saturday a check that his rivals couldn’t go.
It’s been a troublesome first season in New York for the Austrian, and his crew remains to be unlikely to make the postseason. However his fruitful week towards NYCFC confirmed the foundations he’s slowly constructing together with his younger roster, and can have gained him over loads of goodwill with a considerably disgruntled fan base.
Even in celebrating the win after the sport, Struber acknowledged the hole between the Pink Bulls and the Japanese Convention elite, praising his crew’s away win “against a team on this level.”
There are nonetheless reliable issues available concerning the crew’s buildup play and likelihood creation — a few of which can be alleviated as youthful gamers proceed growing — however the Pink Bulls’ 1-0 win bore the indicators of an organized crew, and one that’s shopping for right into a demanding new supervisor.
The crew’s present Eleventh-place standing, too, might be a harsh reflection of its true capability, because the membership handled a bevy of accidents over the summer season, and truly falls in the course of the Japanese Convention based mostly on xG/90 (eighth within the division with a mark of -.02).
Regardless, the Pink Bulls are a piece in progress, and a crew with a massively completely different short-term outlook than NYCFC. The soccer hasn’t all the time been glittering, and the targets haven’t all the time flowed.
It’s been a “learning” yr, to make use of Struber’s phrases.
That studying will proceed Wednesday vs. the Union, however final week, it was sufficient to humble their favourite foes.