The New York City Football club took the pitch against the Colorado Rapids Saturday afternoon hoping to put on a strong performance after their well-heralded appearance at home against the New England Revolution. Some of the questions going into the game centered on the emotions of yet another home opener, as well as the fitness of New York going into their first game at elevation against Colorado.
NYCFC was able to push the tempo early seemingly oblivious to the emotion surrounding the Home Opener of Colorado. The Colorado Rapids had a reserved number of supporters showing up for the game, as the team hasn’t won a game since mid July of last year. Colorado was able to set a tempo mid way through the first half as it seemed that NYC was controlling play despite taking a counter punch approach.
New York City’s overall play was much more conservative, as Head Coach Jason Kreis utilized the same starting eleven as in their previous game in more of a zoned 4-4-2 setup. Colorado was able to control the ball in the midfield utilizing an additional midfielder setup up in a 4-5-1, and the plan was effective. New York had its chances through counters up the win and picking the ball off in the midfield.
The most dangerous chance coming off a misplayed ball by Colorado that led to a chance for Adam Nemec who pushed the ball past an over pursing keeper in Clint Irwin. Adam Nemec could not control the ball further despite having an open net, and the opportunity led to a goal kick. As the first half came to a close it seemed that New York were struggling to get anything productive going as players were beaten off the ball and forced to play defensively.
Much of what was seen in the first half could be seen again in the second as New York City came out strong in the first ten minutes. NYCFC’s captain David Villa had his share of opportunities shooting towards goal, but was denied on every occasion. Jason Kreis opted make a change in the 60th minute to shake up the stale offense by substituting rookie Khiry Shelton for Adam Nemec.
New York City’s fitness seemed to play a factor late as they showed to be having trouble coming back on defense after pushing the play up field. Shelton played strong yet his impact was muted in comparison to his previous performances. Goalkeeper Josh Saunders played his strongest game of the year making a season high seven saves.
Saunders made a key save in the 62th minute as he fended off a blistering shot off the boot of Gabriel Torres just outside of the six-yard box. Sounders stood tall throughout the game and racked his second clean sheet in three games. New York would need all the defensive heroics they could get as once again the fouls they acquired came back to haunt them.
Defender Shay Facey made his first start for NYC against Colorado and although playing a strong defensive game, made the share of mistakes that wound up putting New York in a very vulnerable position. Facey took yellow cards in the 51st and 82nd minute and was promptly sent off. His ejection came off of a foul committed outside the 18-yard box where he essentially ran through Juan Ramirez who had been allowed a significant amount of time, and space.
The remainder of the match was a shooting gallery for Colorado trying to snatch 3 points in the waning minutes. New York was able to fend of a multitude of set pieces and opportunities as the match came to an end. New York was able to earn a point in a 0-0 draw demonstrating again their underrated defense, especially when down a man late.
Saunders becomes my man of the match after making seven saves and denying Colorado’s most prime chances at scoring their first collective goal of the season. Jason Kreis will have to go back to the drawing board in order to find the right pieces needed to get the offense clicking again. New York City Football Club’s next matchup will be at home against Sporting Kansas City on March 28th at 7pm ET.