Four straight wins matches the best such streaks of NYCFC’s history. Still, to put themselves in the best, most defensible position to win the top spot in the East, they might need to extend it to 7, because the next three home games against New England, toronto and San Jose, are the easiest on NYCFC’s remaining schedule. NYCFC probably will need in the area of 12 more points to finish first in the East. It will not help that NYC will play all or some of those games without all or some of Johnson, Matarrita, Chanot, Callens, Sands,, and TBD: Héber (status uncertain) and Shradi (return date completely unguessable).
With less than a quarter of the season remaining, NYC have the league’s second best PPG, second fewest losses*, second best Goal Differential, second most Away points, second best Away PPG, are 1 of only 2 teams with a winning Away record and positive Away Goal Differential (LAFC is the other of course). Largely due to having fewer games played, they are third in Total Points (Philadelphia is second with 1 more point and 2 more Games Played), and fourth in Total Wins (Philly and Atlanta both have 1 more win with 2 and 1 additional games played).
- Some may wonder if the games in hand diminish this stat, but NYCFC has 3 fewer losses than the two closest in this category, with only 1 or 2 extra games to play. Even if NYCFC lose every extra game, they still lead this stat, pening the remaining games in common.
I do not know what the argument is that NYCFC is not clearly the second best team to date in MLS. Schedule congestion for Atlanta? It’s a fair point to note, with their recent Leagues Cup and MLS cup runs, plus the CCL early on. Some note that NYC has lost 3 of the most recent 4 games against teams above the playoff line: RB (both a win and loss), RSL, and Atlanta. You can create excuses for all those games based on missing players and ref calls, but I prefer to note that NYC also has won against DC (A), the Galaxy (A), Philadelphia and Seattle, plus the previously noted RB game. NYC’s record against teams currently above the playoff line is 5-4-3, with 7 of the 12 games on the road, including 2 of the wins.
It’s hard to measure that against how other teams have played against playoff teams. It is a small game sample, subject to change as teams move above and below the line, and most importantly, ignores Home and Away. I think Home and Away is more important in MLS than playoff status. All of NYCFC’s remaining games are against teams currently above the playoff line, and 4 are Home and 3 Away. If you gave me the opportunity to switch that to having only 3 of the Games against playoff teams, but all 7 Away, I would not take the offer. I think you measure tough games in MLS at least as much by Away performance as by the opponent’s overall record. With those disclaimers, I checked the records of Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle and Minnesota against current playoff teams. Of those, I would only say Philadelphia has a better record, subject to all the factors just listed. And the Union lag NYCFC in all other major stats. besides the ones listed above, they had 5 fewer points at 27 games than NYC does now.
I dropped more low end results from the following table. I could conceivably add some to the top, but that seems hubristic, and simply unlikely, though not impossible.
2019 NYCFC is finally ahead of 2018 after 27 games, with 50 points to 48. There is a tie with 2017, which team only managed 1 win and 4 ties in the final 7 games. We’ll see if 2019 can survive the presumed absence of Heber and avoid a similar finish.
Finally, second place with games in hand looks good here.
Busy week so the text and commentary will be slight.
For this first time this year, NYCFC has played more games (26) than there have been weeks in the season. Still a couple to make up though, as this year has only 31 weeks with the playoff shift.
This stat is not original to me, but NYCFC is 11-2-3 (2.25 PPG) when Heber plays at least 60 minutes and 2-3-5 (1.10 PPG) when he does not.
I dropped 4 lines from the bottom of the possibilities chart, and frankly, 52 and even 55 seem barely possible. Both would entail a ridiculous collapse.
Two-game week so 2 of these. I started doing it at 16 games. NYC has been on top by itself 5 weeks, including the last 4 in a row, and tied twice: once with Atlanta (Wk16) and once with Philly (Wk19). The Union was on top the other 4 weeks.
NYCFC has clinched over Cincinnati and Columbus.
Next Magic Numbers: Chicago 2, Orlando 6, Montreal 6.
NYCFC has 6 of the last 10 at Home, which is nice, but the next 6 games are where the team needs to accumulate wins and points. Five of the next six are at home, and the lone Away game in that stretch is against Vancouver, which has a losing record at home right now. Yes, that game involves transcontinental travel, and other games will be on short rest, and the Red Bulls are always tough, and NYCFC’s record at home against New England is worse than against any team outside of Portland. But there is no denying these games are easier than the last 4 games of the season. None of the 5 teams NYC will host at Yankee Stadium in this stretch has an Away PPG better than 1.15 PPG. That’s New England’s Away PPG, and it’s also worth mentioning that the Revs are undefeated Away since firing Friedel (3-0-4). But these are still 5 poor Away teams with an average of fewer than 3 Away wins per team. NYCFC probably needs 15+ points (OK maybe 13 or 14 if other things go well but that’s pushing it) from these 6 games to have a shot at finishing first as it heads into the final 4 games, which include hosting Atlanta, and Away to Dallas, New England and Philadelphia.
It looks like a 3-way race for first place in the East right now.
NYCFC have now played at Rocky Mountain altitude in 2 of their last 3 games, winning once and losing once (with a win at 33 feet above sea level in NYC in between).
Last week NYC won while most of its East Conference rivals lost, this week NYC loses while Atlanta, Philadelphia and the Red Bulls win.
The most dangerous lead in soccer is apparently 1-0 in a NYCFC Away game. The team to score first has lost in NYCFC’s last 3 road games, and has only won 4 times this year in 11 games. Every one of those 4 wins was a shutout (3 by NYC).
NYCFC’s last 5 games L-L-W-W-L has them again sitting just below Philadelphia on both the current PPG and Points at 21 Games metric. Missing players forms a common thread to most of NYC’s recent struggles. At RSL they were without arguably their best winger (Shradi), best defender (Callens) and bets player (Maxi). But that has to be a concern going forward as NYC has to make up so many games, which will definitely require some squad rotation and possibly cause injuries.
In the race between annual versions of NYCFC, we have just hit the peak of 2018, when Domè won 5 of his first 6 games as head coach and everyone was wearing pineapple shirts.The 2017 slide started about 6 games later, if you’re wondering when 2019 has it’s best chance to catch up.
Based on their records at Home, the just concluded RSL game and Atlanta game in a few days are the 2 toughest Away games on NYCFC’s schedule all year. After Atlanta this coming weekend, the schedule gets very easy, on paper at least, with 7 straight very winnable games of which 5 are at home. After that, there is a tough final month with FCD(A)-ATL(H)-NER(A)-PHI(A).
You don’t have to be so tough (well come on)
I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough (well come on)
The metaphors were in alignment as NYCFC went to Colorado, almost immediately went down a goal, then spent about 75 minutes fighting an uphill battle to reach higher and attain peak goals, or something like that. In the end 3 points is 3 points no matter the altitude.
I think it is time to start thinking about playoff seeding.
A simple extrapolation says the 1st seed in the East will probably be in the 55-60 range. I figure somebody among Philadelphia, Atlanta and NYC will go on a run and get 60 points. Maybe even the Red Bulls or DC has a super hot streak. Sneaking a peak at the West tells us that, LAFC aside, the next best of the West (among the Galaxy, Seattle, Minnesota and San Jose), will probably be very close to that 60-point mark in one direction or another. So if NYC can reach 60 points it probably has a very strong chance of winning the East, and should it reach the finals, will be possibly, maybe ahead of any team coming out of that conference if they’re not wearing black and gold. So how do you get to 60 points?
It’s not on the table specifically, but 9-5-1 does it exactly with 28 points and 1.87 PPG. That seems very attainable given NYC’s current form, but let’s also look at the schedule, starting with 4 daunting road games:
Let’s be reasonably conservative, and figure NYC gets 4 points in those 4 difficult Away games just as a reference. Then they need 24 points in the other 11, of which 8 are at Home and 3 are Away. So, win all 8 Home games. Or 7 Home and 1 of the Away; or 7 at Home and draw 3 of the remaining 4. You can play around with it a lot, but if you’re interested in this sort of thing I think there are few enough games for you to start looking at the remaining schedule and think about how to build to whatever point total you’re interested in. For me, the other games of concern are (1) New England Away. The Revs have 4 Home losses, but the most recent was in April and NYC has never done well in New England. The most concerning Home games for me are the Red Bulls, San Jose and Atlanta. None of those teams have great Away records this year, but all are tough outs. Beyond them, NYC has a habit of drawing against Toronto at Home, and has only beaten the Revs once since that First Historic Home Opener, in 5 subsequent visits.
I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but just noting that there is not much room for error if NYC is going to have home games beyond the first or second round of the playoffs. Here’s the current state of the East and how we got here:
And the everyone-at-19-games standings:
Finally the year-over-year graphs. 2019 is ahead of 2016, but still lags 2017 and 2018, both of which featured late season slides. The 2018 slump began after 21 games. In fact, if this team does not win the next 2 it will fall further behind the 2018 version, at which point it will have an easy target to overcome. The 2017 version only faltered after 25 games.
Move on up, and keep on wishing
Remember your dream, is your only scheme
So keep on pushing
Corner-gate, throw-in-gate, call it what you want. It happened and the result is that NYCFC lost 3 games in 8 days (2 in league play). Players were missing, the schedule was tough, there was fatigue. But you take the games as they come. Before NYCFC lost to Portland while missing half the starting lineup, NYCFC beat Seattle in a similar state.
Here is where things stand.
Here is how things stood on that mythical day when every East team played exactly 18 games:
With 2 straight losses, NYC drops into a tie for third, three full points behind Philadelphia. The good news is that looking ahead/behind Philly earned/will get just 4 points in the next 4 games, DC got/will get 2 in the next 3, and Atlanta 1 in the next 2 that happened/will happen. Re Philly, it is worth pointing out that they just finished (in actual real time) a tough 5-game stretch with only 1 home game, earning just 5 points out of 15. This brought their H/A split to even after 22 games. Looking forward their schedule is kind of average, but one should not expect their current slump to continue as bad as it has been.
NYCFC’s future schedule is, on average easier, but splits into 3 phases. First, the Pigeons face 2 Away games against teams earning 2.0 PPG at home or better in the next 5 games for an average opponents H/A PPG of 1.42. Then comes a 7 game stretch of which 5 are at home, with a opposing PPG of 0.98. Then the finish sees 3 of the final 4 Away, with 2 hosts getting 1.9 PPG or better, and an average of 1.55. That middle stretch roughly coincides with NYC’s second half slumps in 2017 and 2018, so they are set up to avoid repeating that in 2019.
More immediately, by PPG, Colorado is one of the team’s 3 easiest remaining Away games.
Additional future info in the “how do we get where” table.
Finally, Zeppelin took the post title but Katy Perry gets the last word on Alan Kelly:
“You change your mind like a girl changes clothes
* * *
You’re hot then you’re cold
You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out
You’re up then you’re down
You’re wrong when it’s right”
Where did everybody go?
Portland has played 3 games at Yankee Stadium. Portland has won all 3. They won all 3 games by a score of 1-0. But there is something else those games have in common.
- April 19, 2015. Villa was injured and did not play. Same for Mix.
- September 9, 2017. Villa was injured after Spanish national team duty and did not play.
- July 7, 2019. Six starters: Heber, Mitrita, Tajouri-Shradi, Sands, Callens, and Johnson (plus a few potential subs) were unavailable for either injury or international duty.
It is a wonder that NYCFC controlled play for most of the game and almost got a result. It was a shame to end the unbeaten streak with a loss under such circumstances, with more than half of a starting 11 unavailable, including almost the entire front line, and the remaining players reeling in the middle of a 5-games-in-16-days- stretch, but that is how things go.
It should surprise nobody that the 12 game unbeaten streak was the longest in club history. The previous best straddled the last game of 2017 and the first 7 of 2018 for 8 games unbeaten.The longest single season streak was the same first games of 2018.
Brad Stuver just played 6 games in the USOC and league play, most of them without Callens, Sands and Matarrita in the back on defense, and gave up 6 goals. I might have gladly taken 7 or even 8 in advance.
Losses with half your lineup missing still count, and the home loss to Portland put just a bit of a kink into what had been NYCFC’s steady ascent up the tables the last 2 months. Fortunately, just about everyone at the top of the PPG table in the East also dropped points this week.
Philadelphia has retaken the lead on the make-believe table where we compare every team at the number of games NYCFC has played to date:
The good news is the Union (and others) did not grab all the points beyond Game 17 so NYCFC has room to recover and surpass with its games in hand.
The “how to reach” table still looks pretty good:
NYCFC is halfway through its season and I reassessed the comparables for the line charts, choosing to use all of 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The team is just behind the 2017 and 2018 version at the 17-game mark. If it can avoid the extended second half slump of those version it can certainly be the best NYCFC ever.
The remaining schedule might be an advantage, even with one more road game than home remaining. Here are the Home/Away adjusted opponents PPG for the remaining schedules for the top 7 East Conference teams:
Red Bulls 1.51
For more detail I counted how many games each of those teams has against an opponent with a H/A adjusted PPG of 1.80 or higher with the following results: RB 3, PHI 5, ATL 4, DC 5, TFC 2, NYCFC 5, MTL 2. That shows NYC has as many or more somewhat arbitrarily tough games remaining as anyone,* despite an average toughness that looks quite easy. As an example, the Red Bulls remaining opponents PPG is so high largely because they still have to play both LAFC (2.78 PPG at home) and Seattle (2.56 PPG at home). But no matter how hard those games are the Red Bulls can at worst suffer 2 losses in them, and they only have 1 other game against a team at 1.80 or higher (Portland 2.0 Home). NYCFC has 5 such games, which is arguably tougher overall even though none of them should be as tough (RB 1.90, RSL 2.25, ATL 2.10, Dallas 2.0, PHI 1.91).
* I picked 1.80 because it generated what seemed to be the right number of results. 1.90 and 2.0 left everyone with hardly any difficult games and 1.70 or lower too many.
Sift through my soul to see what’s lost and found
With this week’s game against Philadelphia, NYCFC has now played every Eastern Conference team that was in the league as of 2015 at least 10 times in MLS regular season play. This shows NYCFC’s Points Per Game against each of those teams, excluding playoffs, US Open Cup, or anything else except MLS regular season.
Here are some more factlets with respect to NYCFC against those teams:
NYCFC’s Best Home Record against – Philadelphia 2.60 (next CHI 2.33)
Best Away – Montreal 2.60 (TFC 1.40)
Worst Home – New England 1.33 (MTL 1.5)
Worst Away – RB 0.67 (NER 0.80)
Odd that Montreal has the second best record at Yankee Stadium while having the worst record against NYCFC overall. The gap between NYCFC’s best Away record and second best is massive. I knew NYCFC had trouble against New England but wow. A few more items of note with respect to this set of teams and MLS season play:
NYCFC has never lost at home against CHI, DC, PHI, TFC
NYCFC has at least one Away win against all of these teams (expanding the field NYC has yet to win at COL, FCD, LAFC, MNU, RSL & has yet to play at CIN)
NYCFC has never lost Away in Montreal (also COL, LAFC, SJ & again CIN)
Empty my pockets that were weighing me down
Sort the MLS tables by different variables and NYCFC is all over the place, but mostly somewhere good. The biggest factors are the games played and losses. NYCFC is:
Last in Games Played
Tenth in Total Points
Second in Points Per Game
Fourteenth(!) in Total Wins
First for Fewest Losses
Second for Win minus Loss differential at +5. LAFC is +9
First (Tied) for Draws (with DC, SKC and Chicago one back)
Of course Games Played is a factor but NYCFC’s total amount of tied games no longer seems so ridiculous. Part of the league is is catching up.
Look at this pretty PPG table:
The Union’s traveling supporters were singing “We’re top of the table” Saturday night, which they are entitled to do. But part of that is a factor of games played. This chart helps show where teams are at similar schedule states:
To help further, I made a mini-table showing each team’s points as of Game 15 where NYCFC sits now:
Ties are sorted alphabetically but Atlanta had more wins at 15 than NYCFC so this is fair anyway.
I can hear a howling wind
That sweeps away the pain that’s been
2016 and 2015 are — tentatively — no longer looking like appropriate comps for 2019.
Gonna walk away from trouble with my head held high
The top half of the potential outcomes chart is looking more attainable:
Tears don’t care who cries them
I posted about this (on Twitter and the NYCFC Forums but apparently not here) at the beginning of June after 33 games because I lacked the patience to wait 3-4 weeks for Torrent to coach his 34th game. But now we have a full season under Domé and his record is 14-8-12 for 54 points and 1.59 PPG. Patrick Vieira’s first full season record, which corresponded exactly with the 2016 season, was 15-10-9 for 54 points and 1.59 PPG. I don’t draw any huge conclusions from this except to note that it seemed awfully unlikely at the end of 2018 and even several games into this one. Torrent is helped considerably by his 5-1-0 start before he started tinkering much. Vieira took over a bad team and made it good. Torrent took over a strong team and after his excellent start earned just 21 points in 19 games before turning it around. But Vieira also took over between seasons while Domé had to adjust on the fly. Who knows, maybe his rough stretch will be like Tiger Woods early in his career. He had won his first major when he decided to hire a new swing coach and completely revamp his swing. He won nothing for a couple of years (roughly) but then the changes took hold and he won 7 Majors from 1999 to 2002. I’m not predicting that much hardware for NYCFC but some success seems possible, at least.
I skipped the Week 15 update, even though NYCFC had a game. Apart from that it was a week of few games, followed by a week off for the entire league, then followed again by a limited schedule week in which the only active Eastern Conference teams are behind NYCFC on the table. Squeezed in there were 2 US Open Cup Rounds, representing NYCFC’s 1st and 2nd USOC wins ever, but those don’t really play into the weekly updates, so there still is not much to say. So even now I’m going to forego the commentary and just put up the charts and graphs.