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The glitz of Lampard’s debut does not provide home comfort for New York City FC.
It has taken 373 days but fans of New York City FC have finally seen Frank Lampard take the field in a competitive match for the club. A second half substitute, he arrived with his side 2-1 down against the Montreal Impact and not for the first time this season chasing the game at Yankee Stadium.
Burdened with the worst home defensive record in the league this season, it is unsurprising that the last four games in New York City have seen 25 goals go in, but only one home win. Even Montreal’s poor way record could not help them - the Canadian side earning just their second road win in the league on Saturday.
An issue rooted in the team’s back line, a lack of cohesion between goalkeeper Josh Saunders and his starting back four has seen them concede a number of soft goals - something typified by Dominic Oduro’s opener on Saturday. Undone by a long punt up field and a fairly straight run, the Ghanian gave Montreal an early lead and pushed NYCFC onto the back foot.
Cutting a frustrated figure on the sidelines, coach Jason Kreis has previously admitted he may have underestimated the size of the task at hand. Attempting to forge a tactic that maximises the talents of Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Lampard, it is the lack of protection it provides his defence that is more concerning.
In the case of Pirlo, who made his full debut on Saturday, the need for a protector along side him is obvious. At home the club are expected to dictate the game - casting Pirlo as the team’s fulcrum. However what was key to his success at Juventus was the protection afforded to him by the athletic duo of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba.
On Saturday Andrew Jacobsen struggled to provide that same support with Pirlo leading the game for giveaways with 22 (Source: Opta).
As it stands, the club will likely miss out on a play-off spot in their debut season. Seemingly unthinkable for a side with such grand ambitions, it is worth noting that since 2005 the Seattle Sounders are the only expansion team to have made it to the play-offs in in their first season.
With more work still to be done it would be unfair to only blame Kreis, with all members of the team needing to take responsibility. Desperately attempting to build a harmony amongst the team it will unfortunately take time - the one resource City Football Group do not have at their disposal.
DC United continue to show comeback power.
Of the many attractions on show in Washington D.C., few have been as entertaining as a night at RFK Stadium recently.
The team from the capital are continually finding ways to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat - becoming the first team in MLS history to win back to back games after being 2-0 down. Showing amazing spirit week after week, going into their game on Saturday against Real Salt Lake, United had lead just three of their 23 games after the half-time interval.
They made it three in 24 after going behind 2-1 to an RSL side themselves eager to break a five game losing streak on the road. Amazingly however the three first half goals would be supplemented by a further eight - yes eight - second half goals, with Taylor Kemp taking the award for the game’s best with this beauty.
A testament to the determination and self belief coach Ben Olsen has instilled in his side, it marks a drastic turnaround from the 2013 season in which they sat bottom of the league - 10 points off second last Chivas USA.
Equally as impressive is Olsen’s ability to extract so much from so little in terms of resources. Able to ride out the stormy weather that was 2013, he could very easily be heading for a coach of the year nomination.
On a night that saw Alvario Saborio face his former side just weeks after leaving, it was another ex-RSL man that did the damage. Fabian Espindola’s link up with Chris Rolfe has been central to the club’s success as Rolfe bagged himself a brace to tie the score a 2-2. Further goals from Kemp, former RSL man Espindola, Perry Kitchen and Nick DeLeon took things to 6-4 by full time. Aaron Maund and Abdoulie Mansally getting RSL’s consolation goals.
Currently leading the way in the Eastern Conference, United must stop putting themselves in difficult positions and start to record the odd 1-0, otherwise they could be set for more play-off heartache.
Cyle Larin will be rookie of the year.
The young Canadian striker isn’t so much running away with the award as galloping. Notching a brace against Columbus Crew SC in a 5-2 win, that took him to 11 for the season, tying him for Damani Ralph’s rookie scoring record.
That was his fifth goal in two weeks after a sensational hat-trick at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC, a game which cemented Larin as the answer for Orlando City up front.
Reportedly a target for European clubs prior to being drafted it is easy to see why. A precocious talent that will only improve, Kaka may have been the big-name signing for Orlando but Larin is proving just as decisive in earning the team points.
The Wright Philipps boys connect in the City of Brotherly Love.
There’s something quite adorable about watching Bradley and Shaun Wright Philipps reunited at New York Red Bulls just over a decade after the pair last played together for Manchester City.
Stood side by side during photoshoots, it will no doubt have filled Dad Ian’s heart with a warm feeling to see his boys once again sharing the same shirt. Shaun made his long-awaited entrance as a second half substitute for the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, away to the Philadelphia Union.
Debuting in the City of Brotherly Love, Shaun’s impact was nigh instant. Winning the penalty that gave the Red Bulls the lead, he then helped them retake the advantage by finding Bradley with a clever pull-back. A touching moment for all concerned, a stint in MLS could arguably do the same wonders for Shaun as it has already done for Bradley - only time will tell.
Galaxy end their road-troubles after early stumble.
Under Bruce Arena the summer months have often been important for the LA Galaxy. It is there that Arena has developed the team’s form and built momentum on route to the MLS Cup final.
One notable difference this season however had been their form away from the Stubhub Centre. Going into Saturday’s trip to Colorado, they were creeping up to almost a year since their last road win in Major League Soccer.
With only a five point gap between themselves and RSL in a tight Western Conference Arena knows their place in the post-season is far from guaranteed, meaning every point counts. Thus he had every right to look frustrated when former Galaxy man Marcelo Sarvas handed the Rapids a 1-0 lead on Saturday evening.
However the return of Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Rogers helped the team out defensively, and with new signing Sebastien Lletget continuing to find the net - he has 6 in 10 games from midfield - Galaxy produced the kind of performance we have become accustom too.
Looking to shed their poor away record, if any coach in MLS can ride the storm it is Arena. An important first away win, come December we could look back upon this weekend as the moment they started their charge towards the MLS Cup.