New York City midfielder Alex Ring plays the game with courage, conviction, skill and a team-first mentality. His words are few but impactful – the distinctive traits of a leader.
The MLS All-Star emerged from the team room following Saturday night’s disheartening 2-1 loss at Columbus Crew SC with a stern message for his side after it failed to adhere to the behaviors which led to an inspiring derby draw just last week against the New York Red Bulls.
“I told you then, if we don’t play with the same intensity, with the same heart, with the same balls, then we are easy to play against,” Ring said to Pro Soccer USA. “These are normal traits you have to bring to every game. It doesn’t matter who you play against.”
Outshooting New York City by a 14-3 margin in the second half, Crew SC rallied from a one-goal deficit to end a five-match winless streak in the regular season series.
Beyond the lack of a proper competitive edge, Ring added that City failed to operate as a unit against an opponent with transcendent connections.
“We didn’t follow out the game plan Dome laid out to us,” Ring said. “We were making our own decisions instead of playing as a team and that’s the result at the end.”
“I was happy just in the first 30 minutes,” NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent said. “After that, we lost control. Our intention was to play 4-3-3 with three players in the middle. The last 15 minutes of the half it was just Ring in the middle. Ringy was alone while Tommy (McNamara) and Maxi (Moralez) played like strikers. In that moment, we started to have problems.”
Fortunately for NYCFC, the match was devoid of a goal at the interval thanks to a sequence of stellar saves and parries by goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Against the run of play, City struck first in the second half on Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s team-leading 11th score. Harrison Afful and Justin Meram countered for the home side on a pair of strikes just two minutes apart. With a half hour remaining, New York City failed to grind out a road point.
“I think we as players have to reflect on ourselves,” Ring said after earning his team-leading eighth yellow card on a harsh takedown of Meram in the game’s final moments. “We still are on a playoff course but if we play like this, I am going to be brutally honest, it’s going to be difficult.”