NYCFC celebrated Maxi Moralez’s goal, but nothing more Saturday. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — You don’t have to be a genius to diagnosis what is ailing New York City FC these days — the lack of a finishing touch.

They have found the net but four times in their past five games, which has resulted in a 1-1-3 record and a more precarious hold on second place in the Eastern Conference.

City’s 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo at Pratt & Whitney was a prime example. The team had seven shots on target as the team either forced Tyler Deric to make some outstanding saves or shot right at the goalkeeper.

“The goalkeeper played really well,” head coach Patrick Vieira said. “He made some good saves, but it’s true that there is some play unfortunately, that we didn’t do really well. I think our decision making wasn’t good and we have to get it to be a bit more collective in the box. And yes I think we had situations that we needed to do better with.”

Forward Jack Harrison might have endured the most frustrating game of all. His close encounters included belting a shot off the crossbar in the 11th minute. He also was denied by goalkeeper Tyler Deric in the 57th and 89th minute as the netminder palmed the shot away.

“We had a lot of chances in the game but we weren’t able to finish,” forward Jack Harrison said. “We are a little disappointed in the draw but at the end of the day a point is better than nothing, we just need to find a way to be more clinical in front of goal.”

Even with David Villa back in the Starting XI, NYCFC could not finish but for Maxi Moralez’s sixth-minute goal. Villa, the Major League Soccer goal-scoring leader (19), was replaced by Khiry Shelton in the 84th minute.

“David didn’t play for a while and he was working hard and we didn’t want to overload him and he was becoming tired in the last 10-15 minutes so we just decided to make a change,” Vieira said.

Villa was not available for comment.

At least one player remained optimistic that NYCFC could turn it around.

“Nothing serious,” defender Ben Sweat said. “We are playing our style of football. The final piece on a couple of finishes is all what we’re missing. Getting that second goal, we get that third goal and maybe more.”