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Ring’s winner lifts NYCFC over Crew


New York City FC’s attack has struggled without star playmaker Maxi Moralez, and Monday night was shaping up to continue that trend, but a gift from the Columbus Crew helped NYCFC find a goal and much-needed win.

Alexander Ring scored to cap a quick counterattack after Crew defender Aboubacar’s lazy pass was picked off and turned into NYCFC’s best chance of the night. Ring finished off a pass from Heber for the 59th-minute winner in a 1-0 victory over the Crew.

The win was NYCFC’s second win of the season, while the defeat was the first official loss of the campaign for the Crew.


The match, played at Red Bull Arena, pitted the first-place Crew against last-place NYCFC, but there was very little separating the two sides in a first half that produced a single shot on goal.

Moralez missed his second straight match with the same calf injury that cost him time during the MLS is Back Tournament, leading NYCFC boss Ronny Deila to deploy a defensive-minded midfield with Alex Ring, Keaton Parks and James Sands as his central midfield triangle against a Crew midfield led by Darlington Nagbe.

Neither side found much rhythm, but NYCFC came out with more energy to start the second half, putting the pressure on the visitors, leading to the eventual turnover that decided the game.

Keita sent a lazy lateral pass in his own defensive third that was picked off by Heber, who raced in on goal and laid a pass off to Ring for the finish.

The Crew failed to muster much of a response after the Ring goal, with Sean Johnson rebounding from his disappointing performance in last week’s loss to the New York Red Bulls without a shutout.

The victory helped NYCFC climb out of last place in the East, moving from 14th place to 10th place. The Crew are still in first place in the East, a point ahead of red-hot Toronto FC.

NYCFC will look to build on Monday’s win when it plays host to the struggling Chicago Fire on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. The Crew return to action on Saturday with a road trip to take on Ohio rival FC Cincinnati.

Man of the Match

James Sands. In a match with plenty of high-level talent in midfield, it was Sands who had the most influence in the middle, completing the most passes and delivering the most successful tackles to help NYCFC neutralize Nagbe and the Crew.

Moment of the Match

Aboubacar Keita’s terrible turnover, which Heber turned into the game-winning counterattack.

Match to Forget

Keita had a solid game right up until the costly turnover, but after that he was clearly shaken and had his confidence take a big hit.


  1. NYFC looks a lot worst than last year. The amount of errors surprises me.
    I like Sands he does well when played as DCM but lately, he has been playing as one of the CBs. Sands and Parks have a good chemistry when they play together.

  2. The Crew offense really struggles without Zelarayan and Mokhtar. Add in Porter using two back up FBs that contributed little offense and there was none of the possession soccer we’ve seen this season from Columbus.

  3. Yueill hasn’t shown that he can dominate the midfield in games against teams like Minnesota United, which doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence concerning his ability to play any kind of meaningful USMNT role. Bloody Tanner Tessman, a 30yo Joe Corona, Mauricio Pineda, Wil Trapp, Dax McCarty and James Sands rate higher per 90min this season at his position & that’s not exactly a resounding group of world beaters lol

    I’m with you. Not sold. The analytics aren’t there. The eye test isn’t there, either.

    • Analytics aren’t a great judge for Yueill because of Almeda’s style. It’s fast break soccer where reward outweighs the risk. Sands make 95 out of 100 passes but most are sideways or backwards. Yueill’s going to drive a ball 50 yards into the path of an attacker, but might only hit 78 out of 100 but the more of those 78 are going to lead to chances than Sands 95. You have to go into deeper level analytics like TeamChain % (successful possession in which the player either dribbled or passed) and xB (participated in a buildup that led to an xG but didn’t take the shot). In these areas Yueill has really good numbers generally.

      • When he plays for the USMNT he seems like our best long passer, at least of the players who don’t play in top European leagues. Off hand, in fact, I can’t think of a European based player who is better at that. I agree that he is worth further looks and consideration internationally.

  4. I haven’t seen many NYCFC matches and I realize that Sands was often used on the back line last year….but wondering what people think about Sands as a possible CDM for the USMNT.
    I realize most will say we have Adams & Yueill with Bradley & Moralez as depth…But I’m not sold on Yueill’s ability to against better teams due to his lack of pace. I don’t like the thought of Bradley being relied upon. His age and degrading speed & condition makes him a liability.
    Moralez is still a decent player, but hasn’t ever really found his footing with the USMNT.
    The next group of prospects (Cardoso & Booth) aren’t yet seeing consistent 1st team minutes….and until they do they’re not really in consideration. That leaves a potential opportunity for someone (Likely from MLS) to make a claim for a Back-Up roll and I wonder if Sands fits that bill.

    • Sands is a destroyer not the passer 3G is looking for. Yueill’s SJ numbers are a little hard to get a read on because of their full tilt style. I’m not saying there’s no future chance for Sands I just think he’s going to need the Olympics or January camp to show he can be more.

      • My point is that there are going to be situations/games where we will need a destroyer type CDM. McKennie & Adams both have a bit of bite to their game, but if either are sidelined what options do we have to provide that physical presence, or salt away a game? There are a fair number of options at the 8 position, but not many at the 6, and I’m not sold on the 3 options that Gregg has been calling in….Yueill, Morales, & Bradley.
        Sands has the physical attributes (Size, Strength, Speed) and for all intents and purposes appears to be performing well as a destroyer for NYCFC based on reports/highlights.
        Not having watched many of his games was trying to get others opinion(s) on if he could be an option.
        If he is worth taking a closer look at, the upcoming January camp would be a perfect low risk opportunity to assess him. Most of our 1st choice options won’t be available and there’s no reason to use known players like Bradley… would be a good time to take a long look at him.

    • From what I’ve seen I think Sands looks like a prospect, but we need to see a lot more of him in international play to see if he is up to that level. Unfortunately for him, it’s a position where we have some decent depth. Players like him really need to go overseas, I think, if they want to earn a spot on the national team. Right now he might fill out one of the last 23 spots on the USMNT depending on the availability of others (that is, he could be called in if some other players are hurt).

    • Lost, you have to get yourself out of the mind of how you would want to play and think how does Gregg want to play. He’s going to play his ball winners further forward and his deep mid is going to be the passer. Sands passing right now isn’t good enough as a 6 or a CB for 3Gs system. I think he’ll be given a chance with U23s and I wouldn’t be surprised if a Euro club bit in January, maybe a team that wants to play with two DMs. He’s only 20 so it’s not unthinkable he’ll be an important player for the next manager. Mendez or Pomykal who are typically seen as 8s might actually better fits as the Berhalter holding 6.


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