The Man in Seat 9 just finished watching New York City FC's season opener among an extremely passionate viewing party at one of the team’s “Pub Partners” here in New York City and a few things have become more clear. The first is that Patrick Vieira knows that the team has a weak defense and plans to overcome that deficit by outscoring opponents with a high pressing, fast-paced attack. Second, Patrick Vieira knows the team has a very weak defense. And third, that defense is going to cause the Cityzens to lose their minds in the last portion of the match.
Football: Always Drama Filled
One of the beautiful things about this sport is the drama that it produces. The final minutes are a concentrated distillation of life. Win or lose. Success or failure. Points or none at all. It all comes down to the last moments. The feelings produced and the hormones released are the same reason why we ride roller coasters and go to horror movies. It’s everything until it’s not. You want to look away, but you can’t. Everything there is are in those last minutes. And it’s glorious.
If you want an overdose of that drama, then follow NYCFC this season because it looks like Mr. Vieira is planning on taking us on a very exciting ride. The style of play is end-to-end. It’s fast. It’s edge of the seat because there is no safety net, or defense, except for Josh Saunders, who in goal is a consistent presence on the pitch. Like last season, he appears to be the lone defensive player that will keep the offense in the match. Nothing rattles the man. Bloodied and bruised and pain be damned he stayed in the match to make the final saves. It was he alone that kept the Chicago Fire to three goals and in this writer’s opinion should have been the Man of the Match.
The Maestro Is, Unsurprisingly, Masterful
Andrea Pirlo made beautiful feeds and orchestrated the attack from midfield as only the Maestro can, and almost notched his first tally on the goal sheet with a free kick that showed how devious and precise he can be. Offensively, the Blues looked improved over last season and the team appears to be in better shape, staying fast and fresh through the entire match. The midfield and forward line were seamless, pressing hard and creating space. The offense was clever. Thomas McNamara’s 10th minute goal opened the MLS scoring tally with a bending shot that deflected off the post and into the back of the net. Tony Taylor followed in the 29th after the Fire tied the game in the 19th. Khiry Shelton added a goal after using his speed to streak by the Chicago defender in the 36th and then Mix Diskerud who had worked tirelessly the entire match, got his payoff in the 63rd minute with a brilliant volley off the crossbar that rippled the net.
Speaking of brilliant, NYCFC’s new acquisition, Frédéric Brillant was not. His regular season debut was a disappointing outing. The mistakes he made looked more about ego than coaching and almost cost the team the three points. Brillant looked like another European footballer who underestimated the level of play in the MLS. It’s a different style, yes, but it's not easy work. Unless he realizes this quickly he’ll be watching a younger player in his position on the pitch.
All in all, the Man in Seat 9 will take the three points on the road. Especially since the New York Red Bulls took zero.