New York City FC will rue the missed opportunities against Montreal Impact, a team they should have beat. However, this game they drew, instead of losing like against Orlando City. Both games consisted of several missed opportunities. NYCFC took an early lead through Rodney Wallace and conceded a Ignacio Piatti goal midway through the second half. (All statistics from WhoScored unless noted)
NYCFC vs. Montreal Impact: Five Key Statistics
Lack of Shots on Target
NYCFC’s biggest issue was the absence of ruthlessness in front of goal. They had 18 shots, but only four were on target. Rodney Wallace, Maxi Moralez, Alexander Ring were the only players to register a shot on target. Captain David Villa had four shots, but none were on target. Also, NYCFC had 13 key passes, so there were ample opportunities to score.
Finishing may have become more than a small issue. This is the second game where NYCFC have had problems scoring. They will need to beat these weaker teams in order to make the playoffs.
Losing Aerial Duels
Winning aerial duels was another issue for NYCFC, as they only had 35% success rate. While they have several short players, it doesn’t mean they can’t compete for the ball and even win the duel. However, this problem signals that a strategy change might be needed.
Oftentimes, when playing the ball out of the back, the center backs are forced to play the ball long. This usually is not in NYCFC’s favor as their midfielders and forwards are all under six feet. There are two possible solutions: don’t play the ball ball long, instead look for the outlet, or insert players adept at winning aerial duels, like Khiry Shelton or Ugo Okoli.
NYCFC struggled defending last year, conceding the most goals of any playoff team. They have given up only two goals this year while playing three teams with some dangerous attackers. A big reason for this defensive strength is the addition of Alexander Callens. Callens had eight defensive actions (two interceptions, six clearances) and one blocked shot against the Impact.
The addition of Ethan White over R.J. Allen has also improved the defense. White contributed 10 defensive actions (five tackles, two interceptions, three clearances) and one blocked shot. Finally, he helped shut down Piatti, who had four shots but none on target.
Crossing Remains an Issue
Andrea Pirlo frequently looks to the wings and fullbacks to provide an outlet. The wingers and fullbacks then try and beat their man to the touchline, and put a cross into the middle. However, the wingers, and the rest of the team, did not provide good service. They attempted 17 crosses, but only five were accurate. By improving these crosses, they can help the forwards be more ruthless. Improved crossing will lead to more goals and wins.
Montreal Impact’s team consisted of seven players over 30, while NYCFC only had three. Their midfield also looks very similar to NYCFC’s last year, with several older players. The addition of several younger players have helped NYCFC become more dynamic and better at playing out of the back. Even Maxi Moralez, who is 30, still has a lot of gas left in his tank. The younger players helped in NYCFC’s 57% to 43% advantage in possession. NYCFC now need to convert that possession into shots on target and goals, but the evolution of the team is very promising.