It is easy to spot that NYCFC has the league’s best Home record right now at 10-0-1, earning 31 of a possible 33 points. But even the most devoted NYCFC fan might not be aware of this cherry-picked bit of data: over the last 36 home games, going back to June 2016, NYC is 27-2-7, earning 88 out of a maximum 108 points, 2.44 PPG, and a +51 Goal Differential. The last loss before this streak was to RSL at home on June 2, 2016. The only 2 home losses since then were to Orlando last April and Portland in September. The 36 games is a bit more than 2-years worth of home games.
Even crazier is how sudden and extreme was the change in NYCFC’s home performance. Before this run started, in 2016 the team was 1-3-5 at home. The schedule was front-loaded with home games, and they dropped points like crazy. After the 2016 RSL game the team PPG was 1.31 overall, which projected to 45 points at season end. Many people, including me, thought they would not make the playoffs. Then they finished 7-0-1 at home, and ended with 54 points and 1.59 PG. NYCFC’s combined 2015 Home record plus 2016 through RSL was 7-10-9 for 1.15 PPG and a -7 GD.
What Led To The Switch
What happened? Here are some thoughts. The 2015 team was, of course, not very good. It is no surprise that its home record was poor. The 2016 team was a substantial improvement, but they had a difficult adjustment to the play-from-the-back style that new coach Patrick Vieira implemented and had a 3 bad habits giving up goals off set plays, and at the end of either half. Many of these incidents led to disappointing draws.
March 13 Toronto – TFC scores in extra time on a free kick at the end of the first half to cut NYC’s 2-0 lead in half, ends 2-2 draw
March 26 New England – The Revs tie the game on a free kick, score remains 1-1
April 27 Montreal – The Impact even the game at 90+1 on a free kick
May 29 Orlando – the Lions earn the draw at 90+4
This accounts for 4 of the 5 draws in the first 9 home games of 2016. Whether this was just a run of bad luck that inevitably would change, or chronic lapses of concentration they were able to cure, it stopped. The team also improved in running its new system, and the streak began. It is also worth noting that the pre-streak home goal differential of -7 includes the Red Bull Wedding game, meaning its Goal Differential apart from that game was even and the team probably underperformed at home to that point.
Why This Is Not More Widely Noted
The best parts of the streak are the 2 partial seasons: the 7-0-1 at the end of 2016 and 10-0-1 to date in 2018. During the only full season in the streak, NYCFC was merely solid at home, tied for just the ninth best home record in the league. Because the 2016 and 2017 overall home records were not particularly great, the team’s strong start at home in 2018 seems like more of an aberration than it really is. You do have to limit the data to this somewhat contrived stretch to see how good the team has been at home for more than 2 years. It is a justifiable contrivance, though, because of its length. I wouldn’t start looking up t best 36-game home stretches in MLS all time, but a record that long and strong is worth noting just for itself.