Alex Ring: “We had a big chunk of the game today, we just conceded stupid goals.” (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — After New York City FC played the Chicago Fire Saturday night, Alex Ring was hurting.
No, the New York City FC all-star midfielder wasn’t injured, but he was hurting inside after the team allowed this game to slip through its fingers.
After overcoming a one-goal deficit, City allowed Chicago to strike for two quick goals early in the second half to hand the visitors a 3-2 defeat at Toyota Park Saturday night.
“I think we have to be honest with ourselves,” Ring said. “If you lead 2-1 away, you got to take the points to home. We weren’t smart enough today and it really hurts.”
Second-place NYCFC (9-4-4, 31 points) failed to keep pace with Eastern Conference leading Atlanta United FC (11-3-4, 37), which recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over reeling Orlando City SC. And the news could get even worse Sunday. The fourth-place Red Bulls (9-4-2, 29) could jump into second place over City with a win at Toronto FC Sunday.
Domenec Torrent, in his second game as NYCFC head coach after Patrick Vieira departed for Nice, took the blame for what transpired in the second half as the hosts rallied.
“In football, when you don’t have focus, exactly what happened in the second half,” he said. “We spoke about that in the locker room because we were in trouble during the first half in the same way: between the lines. I said to them, ‘We have to control in between the lines, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger, the striker, when he falls back, we have to jam.’ It’s my mistake because when a coach is not able to convince the players. We are in trouble.”
What made the result so confounding was that City, which enjoyed 68 percent possession, bounced back from an early 1-0 deficit to grab the lead before Aleksandar Katai struck twice in the second half.
“It was a very hard game,” said Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, whose eighth goal of the season tied him with injured striker David Villa for the team lead. “First, we got 1-0 down and after we come very good into the game for the first half. Then second half we say altogether we need to do more to win the game. But [the] second half was not so good enough. We lose the game in about five, six minutes. It was not so good from us after Chicago scored 3-2. It was very hard for us. We tried to score 3-3 or to win the game but it was very difficult obviously with 10 guys in the defense. It was not our best game.”
NYCFC will host the Red Bulls in a Hudson River Derby match at Yankee Stadium next Sunday.
“We have to pick ourselves up,” Ring said. “It’s my job as well as a leading player to do that. A ll the players feeling we have nothing to be ashamed of. We had a big chunk of the game today, we just conceded stupid goals, but I mean that’s football. That’s life and it’s nice to get a chance to wipe the sheet clean next week against the Red Bulls.”