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NYCFC coach Dome Torrent laments long-ball tactic in win over Columbus Crew SC

These are the three things we learned from NYCFC’s 1-0 win over Columbus Crew SC Wednesday night

Aug 21, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC head coach Domenec Torrent talks with an official during the first half against the Columbus Crew SC at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

BRONX, N.Y. — New York City FC lived a Charles Dickens-like existence in a 1-0 win over Columbus Crew SC Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

“Maybe we play one of the best first halves of the season and one of the worst second halves of the season,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said. “I’m not happy about that.”

Torrent doesn’t understand the identity crisis, why a team built on playing quick one- and two-touches settled for long balls out of the back in the second half.

“In the second half, I don’t know. It’s not New York City Football Club,” Torrent lamented. “It’s another team”

The long balls were in response to the Crew’s high pressure after halftime. The common thought process for possession-based teams is to play long to alleviate pressure, to avoid the risk of turning the ball over deep in their defensive third.

But Torrent said it’s actually the opposite.

“I accept three short [passes], one long, but not all the time long,” Torrent said. “When that happens, that is taking a risk because we defend deep. When we defend deep everyone knows we’re in trouble.”

Torrent said his team played short passes successfully against pressure in games against the LA Galaxy, D.C. United and Montreal Impact.

But in the second half against Columbus, and in a 2-1 loss to Atlanta, the default was to play the ball in the air and bypass lines.

NYCFC got a glimpse of what’s likely ahead when the New York Red Bulls come to Yankee Stadium for the second and final Hudson River Derby showdown of the regular season Saturday night.

“We got a little bit of a glimpse of it tonight,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. “You know, Columbus made some changes, Pedro Santos came on, obviously gave them a different look. And for five, 10, 15 minutes we didn’t really have an answer for it. And finally, I think we made the adjustment, but I think we’ll be starting to get a little more sharp, a little bit quicker on our toes to realize some situations. It’ll be good going into the game against Red Bulls because I’m sure it’ll be another tough one.”

Castellanos stays hot

After a brace in a 4-1 win over FC Cincinnati Saturday, Taty Castellanos added another goal to his account Wednesday night. NYCFC have a legitimate one-two punch in the final third with Castellanos and Hebér that it hasn’t had yet. Previously, it was David Villa and everyone else.

The 20-year-old Argentine now has 10 goals, including five in his past four games. Along with Hebér he is one of two double-digit goal scorers for NYCFC. The club has never had more than two players score 10 or more goals in a season.

“Well, I think there is always room for improvement. I don’t consider myself a complete player,” Castellanos said. “I think I can still improve and I’m still learning every day from my teammates and coaching staff. At my age, I’m happy where I am right now. I’m enjoying it, but I want to continue helping the team.”

Keeping it clean

NYCFC has had no problem scoring goals — it’s tied with the Red Bulls for the second-highest total in MLS this season with 46. And although it is third in the league in conceding the fewest goals (32), clean sheets have been hard to come by.

Wednesday’s win snapped a stretch of eight straight games NYCFC has conceded at least one goal. It was the team’s first clean sheet since a 3-0 win over the Seattle Sounders, and that was with Brad Stuver in net.

Johnson, who was with the US men’s national team at the Concacaf Gold Cup at the time, last recorded a shutout May 11 in a 2-0 victory at the LA Galaxy.

“Clean sheets are always important. At this point, I think the wins are what’s most important, right? With the playoff races starting to heat up a little bit, things are getting tight, we still have a game in hand,” Johnson said. “So for me doing what’s necessary now, it’s just continue to get three points and climb.”

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