Photo by Danny Wild/USA Today Sports
By MATT STYPULKOSKI
HARRISON, N.J. – New York City FC traveled back across the river Sunday night with plenty of disappointment and without any points.
For the third time this season, NYCFC were bested by their local rivals, the New York Red Bulls, in a 2-0 defeat Sunday at Red Bull Arena.
“It sucks,” Diskerud said. “We want to win those games – for the team, for the fans, for everybody around the club. It’s important for us. When we lose for the third time against this team, it doesn’t feel too good.”
To add to the frustration, the loss only furthered NYCFC’s precarious spot in the standings. Through 23 matches, the expansion side has just 24 points and sits four points behind the Montreal Impact, which currently occupies the sixth and final playoff spot.
“That’s how it is,” Diskerud said. “We’ve put ourselves in this position right now where we’ve got to win some games. It’s going to be tough but it’s a challenge we’re going to take with open arms. We’ve got to win some games moving forward now against good teams. We’re a good team and we believe.”
“The games are getting less, but we know we’ve got enough players to win,” Frank Lampard, who made his first start on Sunday, added. “As I say, there’s some new players in the team. I’m trying to get match fit, I’m sure Andrea [Pirlo] is a bit the same, coming in at this point. I think hopefully we’re all going to improve as a group and then hopefully get the wins we need.”
While those new players have bolstered a thin roster with plenty of talent on both the backline – with the likes of Andoni Iraola, Angelino and Jefferson Mena – and going forward – by way of Lampard and Pirlo – they have also presented a new challenge.
Essentially, NYCFC is a new squad for the second time this season. But unlike the first time the pieces were assembled, there is no midseason training camp for the players to settle in.
Instead, head coach Jason Kries has been left to figure things out on the fly, tinkering as the season moves on and with matches that have playoff implications as his only real laboratory. So far, the experiment has led only to mixed results and flashes of brilliance that give way to periods in which the team simply lacks cohesion.
“There’s no speeding up time,” Kreis said. “Unfortunately God didn’t give me the gifts to speed up the clock. So I’ll just continue doing what I believe is best for the guys. Training sessions are important, the time spent together is important…but the matches are the most important thing.”
Unfortunately for Kreis, time is quickly running out – the regular season closes on Oct. 25 and just 11 matches remain for NYCFC to climb back above the red line.
While Diskerud and Lampard admit there needs to be a sense of urgency in the weeks to come, the club’s coach and core players aren’t hitting the panic button just yet.
“I believe in my heart, I truly believe, that this roster is capable of a lot of things,” Kreis said. “As I said before, I believe that we’ve got an opportunity still, we still have a chance to make the playoffs. And I believe that if we do, there’s going to be a lot of people nervous to play us, because I think this is a talented group – it just needs time together.”