New York City FC was officially eliminated from the Supporters Shield race on Saturday night while failing to clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs.
And with the 1-1 road draw against the Montreal Impact on Saturday night comes a heightened concern on the attacking side during a stretch of nine matches that has produced just one win.
NYCFC is toiling in a dearth of goals.
In its last six matches, the Cityzens have finished only four opportunities while suffering a pair of shutout defeats. Their loan score against the Impact was a Rudy Camacho own goal.
Curiously, Torrent held New York City’s co-leader in goals out of the starting XI. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was a 71st minute substitute – the sacrificial forward in a 4-4-2 system featuring Jo Inge Berget as the twin striker with David Villa. Villa and Shradi have 11 goals each.
“When Jo plays you can play long ball if you want,” Torrent said in a pregame briefing with Pro Soccer USA. “He has the quality to set the ball for our team. Sometimes it’s necessary. When we are in trouble, we can play long ball. With the other players you have to play a little bit different.”
In a recent conversation with Pro Soccer USA, former MLS defender and YES Network analyst Janusz Michallik suggested that Berget was a critical compliment to Villa after the Norwegian returned from a three game injury absence.
“Villa needs somebody to play off of, that’s been clear,” Michallik said. “Villa needs him – he’s better when Berget is in there.”
“The communication between Jo and David is so good,” Torrent said.
Villa helped set up Berget on Camacho’s own goal on Saturday. The Impact stymied any further links between the two and Villa’s lone shot on goal was in first half stoppage time – a left-footed drive that forced Evan Bush into his only difficult save.
“We’ve been a bit unlucky this season, I’ve had a lot of injury and he’s (Villa) had a lot of injury and we haven’t played that much together,” Berget said after his 64-minute shift. “Hopefully now we can get some games together under our belt and be a strong couple up front. When we play with two strikers we’re going to get some goals. It just hasn’t gone our way lately but it’s going to come.”
Berget and Villa have started together only three times in the last 14 games and 11 matches overall. With four contests remaining in the regular year there is minimal time to solve the scoring woes and paltry point total (three points in the last six games).
New York City averaged 2.05 goals in its first 20 matches (12-4-4) with a production of 1.1 tallies per game in the the last ten (2-4-4).
“You win games if you score goals it’s as easy as that,” Berget said. “We didn’t get the win that we came here for. It’s been awhile now since we last won a game.”
The last triumph for NYCFC came at Toronto FC on August 12.