NYCFC vs St Mirren: Player Ratings

So, it’s finally happened. No, not New York City’s inaugural MLS game – we have a little while longer to wait for that, I’m afraid. I’m talking about New York’s first official game, against 2013 Scottish Cup winners St.Mirren.

Although it could be argued that facing the Scottish Premiership’s 10th placed side isn’t quite up to the standard of competition that NYCFC can expect in March, this pre-season match was still a useful gauge of the franchise’s progress, as well as an excitement builder for the kick off at Orlando City. Fans are surely unanimous on the fact that the match was encouraging, with NYCFC controlling the game from the word go.

With the help of fellow NYCFC enthusiast, and NY Sports Hub co-founder, Ankit Mehra, I’ve compiled a short round up of the player performances, in handy, rating-sized pieces.

1ST HALF LINEUP:

JOSH SAUNDERS (GK):

BenSaunders’ commanded the goal with all the steadfastness expected of a keeper of his experience. Although neither NYCFC goalkeeper was tested thoroughly, Saunders’ start in goal was met with more St Mirren offense than Fitzgerald’s run-out, but the ex-LA Galaxy keeper was up to the challenge. When he’s in goal, the backline just seems more organised. 8

Ankit: In the teams first ever game, Saunders proved to be exactly what was needed; a seasoned veteran in goal. Saunders maintained composure, organized the defense and it proved to a relatively easy night for him, aside from one troubling save. 8

JEB BROVSKY (RB):

B: Neither of NYCFC’s starting wing backs are particularly quick, but what they lack in mobility they made up for in their strength and vision. St Mirren tried and failed to break down the left wing, with Brovsky often there to cut out an attack before it surfaced. Drifted centrally a little too much every once in a while, but was in place to amend for any earlier errors. 7

A: Brovsky, much like Mendoza, kept the defense composed using his experience to his advantage. Proving to be quite vocal, as well as physical limiting St. Mirren’s forwards from gaining momentum, Brovsky made a case as to why he should be starting in the back four come Orlando City. 7

ANDRES MENDOZA (CB):

B: An absolutely huge presence at the back, the Ecuadorian will surely be a focal point of Kreis’ defence come March. Any team is grateful for an asset like Mendoza; big, strong, and imposing, willing to lead the back by example – particularly with youngster Shay Facey beside him. Obviously his height causes him to not be so quick on his feet, but it hardly seemed a problem tonight. 7.5

A: Mendoza proved to be a valuable addition as he used his physicality to his advantage, stopping any possible St. Mirren attacks, and keeping Jason Kreis’ attacking flow consistent for much of the first half. 7

SHAY FACEY (CB):

B: The Manchester City youngster played beyond his years tonight, and I hardly even noticed (bar the height difference) that Facey was any less a member of the team than Mendoza. NYCFC could – and should – get him loan. 7

A: Manchester City loanee Shay Facey got his first taste of action for New York City FC as he broke into the starting lineup, playing in a central defence role. Using his quick touch to make tackles, Facey proved serviceable over the course of the first half. 7.5

CHRIS WINGERT (LB):

B: Like his wing back counterpart, Wingert made use of his experience and defensive ability to start attacks down his left side, even breaking past the St Mirren back line a few times to whip in a decent cross. 7

A: Wingert had a strong game, but nothing outstanding. He proved to be solid in the wing back slot, prior to being replaced by SuperDraft pick, Connor Brandt at the half. He led the offense forward at times, exposing opposing wings, while proving resilient on the defense end of things. 7

 

ANDREW JACOBSON (CM):

B: Should definitely start for NYCFC if there’s room (when Mix and Lampard both play, of course). Busted a gut reaching both ends, and was a greater direct attacking threat than his fellow midfielders, while able to track back and help out the defence. Got very close with a curling strike into the top corner, but just wide, unfortunately. 8.5

A: Jacobsen proved to be the box-to-box midfielder every team needs. As he provided the link between the defense and offense, he flourished in the role organizing the team as a whole looking like a true playmaker at times. 9

MEHDI BALLOUCHY (CM):

A: Ballouchy proved to be a solid player offensively as he got in strong positions, almost scoring on one occasion in the teams first ever game. While finishing might be an aspect of his game he could develop, Ballouchy seems to be a solid offensive playmaker for the team. 7

NED GRABAVOY (CM):

B: It seems Ned Grabavoy will be a prized asset in midfield, as tonight, he proved he can play well almost anywhere in the centre of the pitch. Though defensively not as persistent as Jacobson, Grabavoy was almost like a second CAM in certain instances, slipping the ball through to wingers or David Villa. 8

A: Grabavoy is one of the standout players to come out of the club’s first friendly. He got in the positions necessary to expose the wings while also proving to be quintessential in the heart of the midfield as he made his presence felt, taking the ball off of opposing players with ease; a trait that might put him in Kreis’ good books. 8

SEBASTIAN VELASQUEZ (CAM): MOTM

B: I swear I saw him in a few places at the same time. Incredibly tricky and omnipresent, Velasquez must be a pain to deal with defensively. As a testament to this, he challenged the St Mirren keeper on more than one occasion, pulling off an off-the-cuff shot, catching the man in goal off guard. 9

A: No player impressed more than Sebastian Velasquez. Using his speed to expose St. Mirren’s defense, and using his vision to accurately place difficult passes. Velasquez shone, and if he is to keep up this form, he could be a very solid winger to Jason Kreis’ already potent, offensive minded lineup. 9

 

PAT MULLINS (ST):

B: I hardly noticed Mullins, bar a few slip ups when controlling the ball, which is a shame as his New England form promised so much. I’ll put it down as a blip for now, but I really hope his form picks up. It’s only been one game, after all. 5.5

A: Of the starting lineup set out by Jason Kreis, Mullins was the biggest disappointment. Being fed the ball in good positions in the box on multiple occasions, he failed to take the opportunities, instead proving incapable of maintaining possession, thus killing momentum. 6

DAVID VILLA (ST)[C]:

B: You can just tell the team gets a lift from playing with a legend like him. His goal was very well controlled, while the rest of his play was just as measured. Not an incredibly loud, scream-at-teammates sort of captain, but was quick to let others know where they could have improved the attack, while communicating with his defence at set pieces. Good choice of captain. 8

A: David Villa has now scored the first goal in New York City FC’s history. Aside from being one of two goal scorers, Villa proved to be a vocal captain, guiding teammates, organizing the team, and providing stability on offense utilizing his veteran prowess to dictate the flow. 7.5


2ND HALF: AKIRA FITZGERALD (GK): B: Had very little to do in goal, but did well when called upon. Not afraid to come out and get the ball for himself, which is a good sign of the guy’s confidence. 7

A: JOSH WILLIAMS (RB):

B: Not much to say about this defender except that he had an unsung performance. Cleaned up when needed and did his job with little good or bad. Need to see more to really get an idea of his strengths. 6.5

KWAME WATSON-SIRIBOE (CB):

A: Kwame provided the assist for Tony Taylor’s goal, but aside from that, he proved to be average simply doing his job. He did not show particular interest in going forward, preferring to sit back and man the wings on defense. 7

FRAN MARTINEZ (CB):

B: The NYCFC trialist sat in the shadows of Siriboe, happy to sweep up behind the big man rather than do anything adventurous. With youth came a reluctancy to do wrong, but also a greater level of comfort on the ball, which was welcomed. 6.5

CONNOR BRANDT (LB):

B: NY Sports Hub’s first NYCFC interviewee, Connor Brandt will always hold a place in Sports Hub history; yet his performance at left back against St Mirren signalled far bigger things than an interview with an independent sports site (although I’m sure he’s aware of the huge honor). NYCFC commentator Les ‘Chappy’ Chapman remarked that Brandt had brilliant control on him, and although that was certainly true, that was certainly not all. Brandt’s experience at left midfield was definitely a help when he burst forward, while his defending definitely wasn’t bad either. 8.5

A: Brandt, the second round selection of New York City FC this year, thoroughly impressed against St. Mirren. Using his versatility as a midfielder and wing back, Brandt was able to go box-to-box with his pace, as well as exposing the defensive backs of St. Mirren over the course of the second half. 8

ADAM DUNN (CM): A: Dunn proved to be a solid player over the course of the second half as he was a resilient presence, disposing St. Mirren of the ball many a time and dictating the pace of the game as the half progressed. 7.5

KWADWO POKU (CM):

B: There was talk that he is influenced by Yaya Toure, and it showed, as the Wilmington Hammerheads loanee powered through midfielders and finessed passes through the St Mirren defence. Some of Poku’s passes were incredibly impressive, and showed maturity far beyond his years. 8

A: Poku was a clear standout over the course of the second half. As he used his pace to his advantage, Poku was able to plow through the St. Mirren defense, completely exposing the Scottish outfits slow backs. Poku’s combination of speed and physicality could serve him well in the long run. 8.5

PABLO ALVAREZ (MID):

B: David Villa’s old pal didn’t light up the game like Villa did, but did his bit to impress the NYCFC coaches. Alvarez was very ‘Spanish’ in his performance, with great vision for a forward pass and a free flowing approach to goal, but was shrugged off the ball too easily in my opinion. If he bulked up and NYC want to fill an international spot, he could be a good shout. 7

A: Alvarez, the unofficial set piece taker, was a solid addition on offense as he managed to expose St. Mirren’s defense with his vision while also impressing on set pieces with his form, but offense is only half of the game. Alvarez must work on his box-to-box play if he is to have a place on the team next season. 7

TONY TAYLOR (CAM): B: If you didn’t see the name or number, youd’ve been fooled into thinking Tony Taylor was a European star recently signed by Jason Kreis. I must admit, I didn’t know much of Taylor before he joined NYC but if he regularly performs like he did tonight, slaloming in and out of players like they were still, and making splitting runs across the backline, I’m sure we’ll hear far more about him as the season starts. 8.5

A: Taylor came on in the second half and proved to be a standout player. Coming to New York after a year at New England Revolution, Taylor was fantastic in positioning as he managed to bag himself a goal on debut, while also managing to have an eye for goal consistently. 8

ADAM NEMEC (ST):

B: Seemed good to start with, holding off St Mirren midfielders and defenders with relative ease, and for the most part, his hold up play was consistently strong. However, as the game wore on, it was clear that Nemec was behind the pace and as a result his passing was quite off. Once he catches up with his teammates’ training, it’ll be clearer how good he could be. 6

A: While looking imposing with his physicality in the initial parts of the half, Nemec proved to be a liability as his positioning and vision deteriorated as the half went off. While he has only been with the team for a weeks time, Nemec will need to improve his raw skills significantly if he is to improve. 6.5

KHIRY SHELTON (ST):

A: Khiry Shelton, the first round selection by New York City FC, came on as a substitute and had a solid 30 minutes of match experience. In those 30 minutes, he had an eye for goal as he went forward whenever given the opportunity, and looked strong in that attacking role. 7

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