NYCFC deserves credit for dominating win over Philadelphia
No one complained about New York City FC’s 5-0 victory over FC Cincinnati last week. But no one really noticed it either. It’s not a reach to predict that the NYCFC – a team that has had little roster rotation in three years – will mistreat a club like Cincinnati that has been at the bottom of the ladder since entering the league.
Against the Philadelphia Union, however, a real test was ahead. The Union have been one of the best teams in MLS over the past few seasons and are set to enjoy another quality year in 2021 after winning a Fan Shield in 2020. For City, the question was whether they could match Philly’s intensity and upset each other while being overwhelming underdogs.
The answer: yes. The NYCFC not only had a fine 2-0 victory over Philadelphia, but it did so convincingly. At halftime, City took advantage of a 70-30 reverse in possession and a 1-0 advantage while being a man after a Union red card in the 16th minute. Jesus Medina was responsible for the first goal, while Taty Castellanos buried the dagger in the second half after taking advantage of a defensive howler.
A complete victory indeed. But despite the fact that the NYCFC defeated Philly on the road, there are still skeptics who undermine this feat. Some blame the red card that Philadelphia backed at the start, while others point to the congestion caused by CONCACAF. Champions League for the disappointing performance of Philadelphia.
To that I say: BOO HOO!
Let’s start with the red card.
A critical part of executing an effective game plan is being disciplined when things don’t go your way. Flying out of the grip is a sure-fire way to cripple your team. And in the 16th minute, Union midfielder José Martinez did just that.
After mingling with infamous NYCFC agitator Taty Castellanos, Martinez fired two hammer punches at the Argentinian, one of which grabbed him in the temple. Referee Ismail Elfaith initially punished Martinez with a yellow for the fight. But after consulting with the VAR, Elfaith rescinded the warning and fired Martinez.
This is not a trivial red card where technical aspects such as DOGSO or a second caveat are the deciding factors. Martinez assaulted Castellanos. By this point in the game, the NYCFC had already scored a goal and dominated the game. And in the heat of the moment, Martinez couldn’t keep his cool.
It is a mediocre game, clear and simple. It was a self-inflicted injury and Philly paid the price for it. And the result should not be tainted or undermined because of it. You shouldn’t laugh at a team’s victory because the opponents shot each other in the foot. Good teams – or good plans – don’t mean shooting yourself in the foot. Duh!
And finally, match the congestion. I’m sorry, but Philadelphia had known its schedule for a while and had plenty of time to prepare for a period of rapid renewal. Many big clubs around the world are facing game congestion and are still able to get results with good planning and tactical allocation of minutes. Hell, the New York Red Bulls have played their young players in the past competing in CCL and it has worked well. The Union did not have a back-up plan for tired legs. And it cost them.
As a lifelong sports fan, I hear it all the time.
“If our team did not miss this field goal …”
“If we didn’t commit this obvious detention penalty in our own red zone …”
“If Giancarlo Stanton was a better hitter with runners in goal position …”
These are all excuses. And all this does not make sense. Good teams don’t make excuses for shortcomings. And honest fans don’t cover them up either.
No matter how you cut it, the NYCFC didn’t knock out the winners because of an imposed handicap. They won because that night they were the best team. End of the story. Until next weekend.