Anton Tinnerholm’s reaction after a hard foul might be what NYCFC supporters are feeling after another loss. (Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
No matter which way you approach it, it has been nothing but bad news for New York City FC this year.
A team-record four consecutive losses to open the Major League Soccer season.
Back-to-back losses to start the MLS Is Back Tournament.
Only one goal in those four games, three of which were 1-0 results.
Tuesday night’s debacle had a new script: NYCFC allowed two goals in the opening 10 minutes and was forced to chase the game the rest of the way at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.
Never one to sugarcoat problems, head coach Ronny Deila admitted his squad is in a bad way after the 3-1 loss to Orlando City SC.
“We’re not in a good atmosphere right now,” he said. “We hate losing. Today we’re not happy with the way we started the game. When you haven’t won games for a while, you get stressed and lose confidence. We can’t dig ourselves a hole and jump in that. We have to fight and stay united. … We have to look forward.”
Even during its inaugural season as an expansion team, NYCFC did not start this poorly. The team kicked off with a 1-1 tie at Orlando City SC before returning home to Yankee Stadium to defeat the New England Revolution before struggling the rest of the season.
“We’re not a club that is used to losing games, especially consecutive games,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. “It’s a rough moment, but it’s moment like these that we have to look within and figure out what it’s going to take to turn it around. We have another game left in the tournament, and I can tell you we’re going to put everything into it in training to make it right. We have to start putting results together, plain and simple.”
It was a nightmare start, pure and simple as Chris Mueller, who tallied in Orlando’s opening win, struck twice within a 10-minute after the opening whistle to boost the hosts into a two-goal advantage. Orlando never looked back and NYCFC was forced to use its energy to play catch-up, which it has done way too many times this season.
“The first half an hour is not good enough,” Deila said. “I have to take responsibility for it because it seems like we weren’t clear enough on how we want to play. We didn’t show what we want to do in the first 30 minutes. After that, we changed a lot of things and we looked more dangerous.”
Added midfielder Jesus Medina: “We didn’t have the confidence like we did in the second half. If we had played as well as we did in second half during the first few minutes, we probably could have finished well.”
But it turned out to be too little, too late. Medina gave City a chance with a goal, but the Lions added an insurance score in the 81st minute.
“It’s not ideal being in that situation,” Johnson said. “We step on the pitch to win and not to concede goals. It’s not a good feeling, but there is a lot of game to be played. We did our best to claw back into the game before halftime and gave ourselves a chance. … We can’t start slow. We have to be more tuned in and eliminate those early opportunities for opponents.”