NYCFC: Optimistic start but plenty of room for improvement

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MARCH 06: Thomas McNamara
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MARCH 06: Thomas McNamara /

NYCFC are off to a good start in the MLS, but there is plenty of room for improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

NYCFC started the 2016 MLS season off right, winning their opening match on the road 4-3 over the Chicago Fire. It was the first time that NYCFC had ever scored three goals in the first half of a match. Patrick Viera will be happy with the result, but as he stated after the match, there is plenty of work to be done.

One of the key aspects that seems to fit the MLS as a whole, is the openness of play. They haven’t fully accepted the method of keeping possession and slowly breaking down teams. Instead, there is a willingness to play the ball to the furthest man, and apply pressure immediately after receiving the ball.

This style can be beneficial to a team like NYCFC, due to their wealth of attacking options, with players like David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, and maybe even Khiry Shelton. The Sky Blues look ready to threaten their opponent whenever they have the ball.

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However, where this method falls short is when they don’t have the ball. NYCFC looked fantastic going forward and creating chances. Conversely, they appeared shaky at best on the defensive side of the ball. They were often caught in transition, with their center backs not communicating and picking up the runs from their opponent’s attacking players.

Spectators of the match in Chicago on Sunday could easily see that if a few breaks had gone in the opposite direction, we could easily be discussing a NYCFC loss today. The Fire created a lot of chances in transition, and only when NYCFC’s midfielders got behind the ball did they look more formidable defensively.

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We have to keep in mind that it is only the first game. We can expect them to improve significantly defensively as each game goes on. However, there are signs from the first match that this progress must happen sooner than later.

The Chicago Fire have struggled as of late, finishing in last place in the Eastern Conference last season. Therefore, they can hardly be a benchmark for NYCFC’s success, given where their goals are set.

While it looks like Patrick Viera will have plenty of options to choose from offensively, he’ll be harder pressed to create a more stable defense.

They receive help from Andoni Iraola when he is cleared to play, as the Spanish defender boasts experience from La Liga, defending some of the world’s greatest attackers.

That being said, they’ll need stronger performances from their recently signed CB, Federic Brilliant, who was often the culprit of being out of position or not reading the game as well as he needed to on Sunday.

Related Story: Andrea Pirlo Contemplates Staying With NYCFC

Overall, it’s an optimistic start from the Sky Blues. With a new coach and a 4-3-3 formation, all the signs are there for them to have a successful season. However, the rapid improvement of their defense is absolutely paramount to their success this season.