COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – A road result is always a good thing in MLS. But with their Supporter’s Shield hopes in the balance, Saturday night’s 1-1 draw left New York City FC wanting more.
“When you’re winning 1-0 and there’s just five minutes left and you concede a goal, there’s a lot of frustration from our side,” explained NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira.
Despite what was ultimately a disappointing result, there were still a lot of positives to build off of as NYCFC remains on course for the playoffs.
With 13 points in their six previous matches entering Saturday, New York City again came out showing good form, taking an early lead in the 19th minute from a long-range strike from Tommy McNamara. After starting the season with limited minutes, McNamara has once again become a valuable piece, even wearing the captain’s armband in place of David Villa.
“I think when you look at the beginning of the season, it was really tough for Tommy, because he didn’t play a lot,” Vieira explained. “But he has kept his head happy. Every time in training and every time he had an opportunity to play, he delivered and tonight he scored a fantastic goal.”
Designated player Andrea Pirlo has also put in solid shifts, starting the past three matches for NYC.
“As a team, especially in the first half, we played quite well,” said Vieira. “We managed to control the game and we managed to control the possession. When we play here in Colorado, when you go past the hour, there are some players who get maybe a bit more tired and we need to move other players around. This is why I decided to put in some fresh legs. But when you look at the minutes he played, I think [Pirlo] had a good game.”
In Pirlo’s place, 17-year-old homegrown defender James Sands made his debut, and Vieira was also high on the youngster.
“I think it was a great first game to get involved and that will make him better,” Vieira said. “It was a good experience for him. He is an important player for our football club and we want to play him in the right way.”
Even with little chance to win the Supporters’ Shield, there’s still much to play for in what remains of the regular season for NYCFC. With five games remaining, the club hopes to retain its tight grip on the second seed in the East.
“We knew it was difficult to catch [Toronto],” explained Vieira. “But what is important to us is to stick to second place, which will be difficult for us because we have some difficult games ahead of us. But we are in a good position and we just have to keep working, keep believing in ourselves and play the way we have done lately.”