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New York City FC intent on finishing ‘big chances’ after Tigres defeat

NYCFC have not scored in three consecutive matches – all 1-0 defeats

HARRISON, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 11: Valentin Castellanos #11 of New York City FC and Francisco Meza #21 of the UANL Tigres collide in the second half during Leg 1 of the quarterfinals during the CONCACAF Champions League match at Red Bull Arena on March 11, 2020 in Harrison, New Jersey.UANL Tigres defeated the New York City FC 1-0. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

HARRISON, N.J. —  New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila has publicly placed an emphasis on “big chances” when reflecting on his evaluation of a particular match.

For instance, he said “they only had one big chance” when referring to the first-half attack of Tigres UANL, NYCFC’S opponent in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Pigeons failed to convert half a dozen big chances in the first half hour of the contest — the deciding factor in a 1-0 defeat at Red Bull Arena.

“It’s unbelievable we didn’t score a goal,” Deila said. “So many chances and can’t get the result in the end.”

Heber and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi each had a pair of significant opportunities while Alex Ring and Alexandru Mitrita had promising strikes that missed the target.

NYCFC have now suffered three consecutive 1-0 setbacks and have tallied just one goal in its last four matches.

Deila had a partial explanation for the finishing deficiencies.

“I think we have to be more calm — we have more time than we think we have,” the first-year manager said. “Take our time then you get balanced and its more easy to finish. We are a little bit stressed in those situations. I think that’s the main part. The worst would be if we didn’t create chances.”

Through 45 minutes, City had more attempts on goal (9-6) and more on frame (4-0) than Tigres.

Those figures flipped after halftime with Tigres outshooting NYCFC (8-3) and doubling the shots on frame, including the winner by Eduardo Vargas in the second minute of stoppage time.

“In the second half we stopped playing, we were playing too many long balls,” Deila said. “I can’t understand.”

“In the second half there was too much transition – that’s how you lose your legs,” midfielder James Sands said. “Every time we won it we’re just going a thousand miles an hour, which is not a bad thing if it’s on, but sometimes you just have to put your foot on it and slow it down. That’s what we did really well in the first half and just lost it in the second half.”

“In the first half we played our system,” Deila said. “Then suddenly the game changes. If you lose the ball all the time against good teams like this, you get tired. You start to run after them instead of them running after us.”

The exhaustive chasing and closing down was a dynamic in the critical road goal for Tigres – Vargas pounced on a rebound ahead of the City defenders.

NYCFC now has an arduous task of trailing by a goal on aggregate and heading to Estadio Universitario in Monterrey, Mexico for the second leg, which has been postponed indefinitely by Concacaf due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That will allow additional repetitions for the NYCFC attackers to sharpen their finishing skills.

“It’s very frustrating for me and the players, I feel sorry for them,” Deila said. “We have special qualities in the last third of the pitch. I see it in training what they are capable to do. It’s a hard lesson and when you suffer you have to be really honest with yourself and work hard to turn it around. I’ll be the first at training tomorrow and we are going to do this together.”

Fourth-year central defender Maxime Chanot said despite the three-game losing streak, there are no lugubrious tones in the locker room.

“Nobody doubts in this room,” Chanot said. “There is no crisis, everybody is positive. We know the quality we have.”

The normally prolific Tajouri-Shradi —  without a goal in four matches concurred.

“The goals will come.”

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