The Man in Seat 9: New York City FC Drowns In Hudson River Derby

EDITORIAL (May 5, 2018) – The first leg of the Hudson River Derby was a total and utter failure for New York City FC. It wasn’t the Red Wedding; it was worse. Because today the Boys in Blue walked on to the pitch and decided that they didn’t want to play. Maybe they had their minds on the Kentucky Derby. Maybe there was a big Cinco De Mayo party tonight. Maybe they are all secretly Stoke City fans and were devastated by their relegation. Wherever they were, they weren’t at Red Bull Arena.

Until today, I have never seen the team play without heart. I have never seen them seem to give up on the pitch. And that’s what makes this a worse loss than the Red Wedding. Then, the team was young, unformed, inconsistent, without any depth. Today they are none of those things, and it was unacceptable for the team to play the way they played.

The Man in Seat 9: New York City FC Drowns In Hudson River Derby

NYCFC crossed the Hudson River today to be training ground fodder for the New York Red Bulls. For the second time this year, the team was not able to transition from midfield into an attack and for the second time this year we were handed a 4-nil scoreline.

I think Patrick Vieira echoed all of our feelings in the after match press conference — “I am prepared to accept that we are going to lose games. But the way we lost, with the lack of conviction, the lack of competitiveness, this is something I cannot accept.” He also said “If I could sub off all 10 field players at the half, I would have”

Sloppy Passing. Sloppy Defense. Sloppy Football

The risk with the City System is that it is a three-legged stool. To play a possession match, and build from the back, you need to have an aggressive attack. First, so that your defense gets a break from pressing so high up the pitch, and second because teams are going to do exactly what the Red Bulls did today. They are going to coil and strike quickly at the errant pass and counter before the defense can get back and get their shape. They are going to send balls over the top and catch Kaku on the break. They are going to effectively shut you down.

You also need to be technically sharp to play the system well. Passes need to be on target. Plays need to be made quickly. It can’t be reactive it needs to be bold. Players need to move their feet. Today’s performance was none of those things. Passes were steps behind teammates; intercepts were missed by steps; crosses were inches over defenders heads; and, at least in the first half, attacks were nonexistent.

A Spark of Life, Then Death

In the second half, with two substitutions, the team started playing a decent match. Sebastien Ibeagha and Ebenezer Ofori brought heart and life to the side and the team seemed to wake up. And then, it didn’t. Shockingly Vieira subbed Rodney Wallace for David Villa. And that, right there, sums up the derby. They rolled over and showed the bulls their bellies. Surrender. That is not something the Man in Seat 9 ever wants to see again.

“We have to be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for today,” Alex Ring said after the match. “Look in the mirror and we know the truth. This was a shit game from us and we deserve to lose.”

Yes. Yes you did.

The GB&U

The Good

Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

The Bad

See below.

The Ugly

Everything. It was all ugly.

On to the next match. Let’s put this behind us and again find our heart.

Absolutely gutted.

The Man in Seat 9

May 5, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) controls the ball against New York City forward Jesus Medina (19) during first half at Red Bull Arena. Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports