Post-Match Thoughts – Game 9 – Seattle Sounders FC 3, NYCFC 1

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I guess that’s what a top team looks like. New York City FC welcomed Supporter’s Shield and US Open Cup holders Seattle Sounders FC to Yankee Stadium Sunday in a game that clearly outlined the hierarchy of MLS. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins put on a show, combining for three goals in a winning effort. We knew there was a major difference in quality going into the game and at the very least it provided New York with a reference point – now they know how far it is to the summit.

New York was outclassed by one of the league’s true powers. I think this is one of those situations where the stats don’t tell the full story, because looking at the score sheet you’d think this was a fluke result. NYC had an edge in possession, corners and a nearly two-to-one ratio of shots taken. The difference was that Seattle created legitimate scoring opportunities and seized them – Martins and Dempsey made sure of it.

You have to admire both players; they were obviously the focal point of New York’s defensive strategy but no amount of game planning can overcome such a disparity in talent. New York might have had four guys looking to stop two, but it still felt like the Seattle duo was ganging up on them.

The last goal was just playground stuff – Dempsey played a back-heel pass that split two defenders and Martins’ speed and precision took care of the rest. I haven’t seen a full list of candidates but I have to think that’s comfortably the goal of the weekend in MLS.  New York City fans will hope for something similar when Frank Lampard and David Villa finally link up this summer, but Dempsey and Martins have a partnership that takes time to develop.

It’s been mostly bad news for New York over the last month and unfortunately it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. The team has played nine games so far; four were against teams that were out of playoff position heading into this weekend. Including tonight, they’ve only played three games against teams that are currently in the top-half of the league.

The home team didn’t get the job done but it was still a nice night, and it felt good getting back into the flow after I missed last week’s game (traveling). We all know the stadium is deeply flawed and that’s not going to change in the near future. I think the team can tweak the experience though – here are a couple things that stood out to me tonight.

First, City Beats. I don’t know what was happening at half time but I’ll be fine if we never see that again. The decision to have a team-sponsored pep band in the stands is weird in general, but for the most part they’re harmless – at least for those of us who don’t sit in their section. But toss a DJ into the mix and give the whole crew a platform on the field and the whole thing becomes pretty cringe-worthy. Maybe it’s happening every home game but I only noticed it today. Consider this my City Voice vote to silence the band.

Secondly, the big screen is being misused. It’s nice that the stadium has a big high-def screen (at 103’ by 58’ it’s almost as big as the soccer field) but it’d be nicer if they used it to help inform the crowd. For whatever reason the club has opted to not show replays of any opposition goal or borderline foul call. Instead we get nonstop cutaways to fans hamming it up for the camera, often at inopportune times – I’m almost certain saw Third Rail head honcho Chance Michaels cheering wildly on the big screen moments after Seattle’s opening goal, but it could have been some other guy in a top hat.

I get that the club wants fans to have fun but I think it’d be a welcome change if they scaled back on the dumb crowd shots and used the giant screen for some additional replays instead.

While we’re on the subject the screen recycling the same handful of vanilla, NYCFC-related tweets can probably be shut off too.

Quick Thoughts:

  • I still don’t know what New York’s best lineup looks like, but I know it includes Kwadwo Poku.
  • Did they lift the smoke-bomb ban, or are fans just sneaking them in? They went off at least three times tonight by my count – prior to each half and after the NYCFC goal. On my side of the stadium it resulted mostly in confusion – someone nearby said the orange smoke looked like Cheeto dust.
  • Dempsey is one intense SOB. I’ve always basically known that from years of watching him stalk around the field with the national team, but it was a different experience in person. He goes right after everyone, teammates and opponents alike. I wonder if anyone on the Sounders ever attempts to tell him a joke? I’d probably just leave it alone.
  • This was the first time New York lost by more than one goal. Also the first time they’ve allowed three goals against.
  • With Mehdi Ballouchy notching another goal tonight we have to revise the futility-fact: NYCFC has not scored a goal without David Villa or Mehdi Ballouchy being directly involved. Lampard can’t get here soon enough.
  • The referee was terrible. Kwame Watson-Siriboe played poorly but he didn’t deserve an ejection.



*Photo from walknboston’s flickr

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