Chicago Fire 1 – 0 New York City FC

NYCFCvsCHIapril23 Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

CHI vs NYC

Chicago Fire 1 – 0 New York City FC

Chicago marked a deserved win, but did New York really lose?

 

NYCFC may have lost the game last night, but more importantly, gained a lot of Soul and respect.  Perhaps even bigger sister Manchester City FC could learn a thing or two from its younger sibling? 

 

April 25, 2015

Yeah, the game last night against Chicago Fire was lost for sure.  The better team won, and Chicago was indeed on fire last night.  The hosts were playing an attacking, well-organized game with David Accam dictating a fast and dangerous pace for most of the 94 minutes.

 

Accam’s impressive performance was backed up, and at times enabled by Harry Shipp and Shaun Maloney, both showing innovation, strategic thinking and teamwork in mid field.  On the other end of Chicago’s field, Goalkeeper Sean Johnson showed leadership in organizing and controlling the box, as well as rising up (both literally and figuratively) to some crucial saves at times when Fire’s defence left holes that created opportunities for City FC.

 

There is a lot more to be said in praise of Chicago’s performance last night, but I will save it for the experts.  I actually want to pay tribute of a different kind, and to a different team: the losing team in fact – New York City Football Club.

 

In the first few minutes from kickoff, the game it actually seemed to be going NY’s way.  New York was dominating the field, possessing the ball, showing very impressive and accurate passing abilities, and even creating a few opportunities early on.  City really looked good, and even without their designated player/star/weapon David Villa who was missing due to hamstring injury.  But that tight, attacking team did not stay for long.  It took only a few minutes for everything to go downhill very quickly for New York, and a slippery slope it was…

 

It took Chicago a few minutes to regroup, find their rhythm, and turn things around.  Probably the 9th minute was the turning point, with a missed header by Jeff Larentowicz (one of the night’s many brilliant assists by Shaun Maloney).  A minute later, David Accam wins a free kick in the defensive have, which somehow kick-started the Accam machine, that then didn’t seem to be on a mission to destroy New York for the rest of the night.

 

10 minutes on, and Accam capitalizes on one of many opportunities he created for Chicago that night, and scores.  It was Goalkeeper Ryan Meara’s (on loan the Red (Bulls) side of New York) very crucial mistake of trying to save a corner ball, but failing to keep possession and handing the ball over to Accam, who easily went on to score at the 20th minute – 1-0 to Chicago Fire.

 

That goal only the first of a series of tragic blows that were handed to NYCFC one after the other, all throughout the night…

 

On the 23rd minute, Andrew Jacobson is shown a red card for a foul on David Accam, for dragging Accam from behind a denying a goal-scoring opportunity.   Continuing with two forced-by-injury substitutions of Patrick Mullins coming on for Adam Nemac (ankle) on the 34th minute; followed an NYCFC debut for Matthew Dunn as he replaces Javier Calle (hamstring) on the 38th.  And the list goes on and on, all the way to added time actually, with Chicago’s corner and attempt by Ryan Meara on the 91st.

 

So, you would actually expect Chicago to destroy and humiliate New York City FC for the entire evening, right? Dead wrong!!

 

Not only did NYCFC not give up, but the young team actually stepped up efforts and played inspiring soccer all throughout the night.  On an individual level, every player on that filed game his absolute best, as if the entire team was resting on his shoulder.  Be it Ned Grabavoy that diligently covered the mid field and distracting Chicago’s effort, Mix Diskerud that never fell into the “I’m too good for this” attitude and continued creating chances and looking for holes in Fire’s defence, and pretty much every other player on the team.

 

Most credit in fact goes to the guy that could take the blame for most of the loss, Goalkeeper Ryan Meara who could have easily get distracted and withdrawn, knowing for the rest of the match that his mistake cost the team a game.  But in an admirable way, Meara pull himself together and demonstrated for the rest of the match fantastic performance with brilliant saves.  And as can be said about the rest of the team, without these immense efforts from each and every player, the result could have been much worse.

 

All in all, NYCFC may have lost a game, but won a hell of a lot of respect and dignity. 

 

It is still a very young team, which for sure has a lot to learn and improve upon.  But I do not believe “Frank Lampard Will save NYCFC”, just as David Villa didn’t, Kaka won’t save Orlando, and Steven Gerrard will not save L.A. Galaxy.  Soccer is a team sport, and every player has to give his heart and soul in order for the team to succeed.

 

In a day an age where the beautiful game is becoming greedy beyond imagination, players are stars that are paid multi millions, it is sometimes easy to forget that soccer not only about fame, fortune or even skill, but also has to do with soul, effort and character on both individual and team level.

 

Amongst my many sins, I am an English Premier League follower, and avid Manchester City supporter (hence my interest in NYCFC I guess), and also support and admire Frank Lampard (since his Chelsea days actually).

 

Sadly, along with other EPL clubs, I feel that my beloved MCFC has lost its’ way recently, and I think it is due to too much money, stars that play for themselves, and an overall lack of soul and team spirit and sense of purpose.

 

I think that this is what we saw last night from Manchester City’s younger family member – tons of soul and heart.  Who ever said your younger brother can’t teach you anything?