NYCFC looks for leadership after StubHub collapse

A game -- like a season -- is usually defined by the outcome, not the beginning.

A solid start to its first game at StubHub Center melted rapidly for New York City FC Sunday as the two-time defending champion rolled relentlessly to a 5-1 thumping. Kwadwo Poku and David Villa launched a few promising attacks while the Galaxy tried to sort out its game plan but once NYCFC fell behind, it looked like exactly like an expansion team under siege from an attacking juggernaut.

By the time Villa knocked home a penalty kick in the 80th minute, NYCFC was already down by four goals, and the Galaxy tacked on another one that confirmed Villa’s impression that he and his teammates were overwhelmed by a “great team.”

“We trained hard for this game. In the first 20, we played the way we prepared for this game. We were playing well and almost scored a goal, but them we stopped doing what we were doing,” said Villa. “When you play against a great team, let’s acknowledge that they are a great team, they are a better team than us, they are the defending champions. When you play against a team better than you, the only thing you can do is stay 100 percent focused and after the 20th minute we didn't do that.”

Coach Jason Kreis acknowledged that, for all its talent, NYCFC has yet to forge the necessary resiliency and determination to ride out the rough phases of games. It has conceded 44 goals, second-most in the league, and is the only team to allow at least eight goals in three different 15-minute intervals of games. He also noted how midfielder Frank Lampard, whose nettlesome quadriceps injury kept him out of a third straight game, might have helped the situation.

MLS, Most Goals Allowed:

46 Orlando City
44 New York City
43 Crew SC
43 Philadelphia
41 Toronto FC

“We still have a lot to learn about how to be mentally strong and how to get the momentum back in games because I think it is happening to us quite often where we have spells where we are good and then something happens in the game and everything completely shifts and we have a hard time getting that back,” Kreis said. “I think a player like Frank in the midfield for us would certainly make a difference. He's a veteran player with a ton of experience that can communicate and can lead the guys around him. He might be the guy that we need to stem the tide when things are going a little bit south for us. Unfortunately he wasn’t quite fit enough to really contribute for us today. We will have an entire week to try to get him involved in full trainings and fit for next weekend.”

This weekend NYCFC hosts Columbus Crew SC and aside from possibly fielding Lampard, Kreis must figure out to instill some cohesion and bite in the midfield. Bringing Lampard into the lineup would force out someone. Poku’s assertive runs and dribbles have been unhinging teams for the past month, and Andrea Pirlo isn’t sitting down if he’s fit, so Kreis may need an alternative for Mix Diskerud and/or Andrew Jacobson.

Kreis may also re-jigger a backline the Galaxy had little trouble carving open once its attack got rolling, but his primary objective will be to restore cohesion and confidence in the wake of a humbling defeat that may be as costly to the team’s psyche as well as its playoff aspirations.

“We came into the locker room and everyone was talking about it,” said Poku. “It is not something that we expected. It happens and we just have to forget about it. We have our next game on Saturday and that is a crucial game too. We definitely have to win that game if we want to make it to the next stage.”

But when NYCFC faced adversity, and there was a lot of it in a 5-1 loss to the LA Galaxy at a sold-out StubHub Center Sunday afternoon, the response wasn’t what the expansion team was expecting.

1 comment about "NYCFC looks for leadership after StubHub collapse".
  1. beautiful game, August 26, 2015 at 11 a.m.

    NY defense is in shambles and has no answers.

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