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Three takeaways from NYCFC’s 2-2 draw with LAFC

Mar 17, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC midfielder Alexandru Mitrita (28) celebrates his goal against the Los Angeles FC during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

BRONX, N.Y. — Here are three things we learned from New York City FC’s 2-2 draw against LAFC Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Mitrita’s development

Every goal for Alexandru Mitrita is important, but there’s something special about your first. Especially when you come in as a Designated Player, rightly or wrongly, filling the spot vacated by David Villa.

“They paid a lot of money for me and I’m happy to be here and I want to score a lot of goals,” Mitrita said. “It’s my job to help the team and to win.”

What should be welcome news to NYCFC fans is that Mitrita isn’t yet fully fit. NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said he’s at about “80 percent.”

“Mitri, for me, is a good player. I’m sure he’s growing in the next two or three games because it’s not easy for him,” Torrent said. “Right now he’s not 100 percent fit, but when he has the ball, we are better.”

The goal appeared to energize Mitrita, who also hit the crossbar on a stunning free kick from nearly 30 yards out. He had the most shots (7) and the most fouls suffered (3) for NYCFC.

In the second half, Mitrita was being swarmed by LAFC players with every touch and in those situations, Torrent said, better decisions could have been made.

“It’s not easy because sometimes it’s Mitri against four. When that happens, it’s stop the ball and play on the side,” Torrent said. “In the 18-yard box he scored an amazing goal, but in the second half, maybe if he stopped the ball and passed the ball on the side we had two or three players alone. But it’s not easy. I’m very happy with him. He’s a fantastic player for our team.”

Ring leader .. in goals?

Alex Ring has forged a reputation in his three years in MLS as a tough tackler, someone who breaks up the opponents attacks, not so much as someone who finishes his team’s forays into the attacking third.

He didn’t score once in 2017 and this year he’s already matched his goals total from all of 2018 with his second goal in the first three games.

For Torrent, the explanation is quite simple. It’s all about the numbers, specifically 4-3-3.

“When we decide to play 4-3-3, he has this quality,” Torrent said. “Maybe he can score six, seven, eight goals this season if we decide to play in that way. He’s an amazing player for us because he can play holding midfielder, No. 8, all the time we have more options to score when we play with him 4-3-3.”

Like anyone else, Ring likes scoring goals. But he likes winning more. And he’s fine doing whatever is needed to help NYCFC win games.

“Just being higher up the pitch than what I was before, maybe not seeing the ball as much as when you’re alone as the No. 6,” Ring said. “But I try to find spaces for myself, try to work off Maxi wherever he is, if he drops down, I try to fill his position. I think it’s gotten better and better game by game.”

Solution for squandering leads?

It’s an early theme that’s emerged for NYCFC. They’ve done enough work to build leads, but they’ve conceded four equalizing goals. The Cityzens had a two-goal lead in Orlando, only to settle fo a 2-2 draw.

On Sunday, they had a pair of leads, only to have Mexican international Carlos Vela level twice.

Torrent, though, doesn’t think the answer to these problems are in the defensive third, although he did admit Vela’s first goal was directly off a defensive mistakes. Instead, he again stressed the need for that forward he hopes is coming soon.

“When you are close to the opponent, you need to score a goal,” Torrent said. “Maybe if we have a scorer and it’s 3-1, 4-1 and after that the game is over. When the game is about 1-0, 2-1, its always dangerous to play.”

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