NYCFC has learned to thrive in discomfort

It didn’t always seem so easy for NYCFC.

Before being showered with praise this weekend with a home opener title presentation before facing Montreal, NYCFC were treated to a more hostile “home” environment on Tuesday. And they handled it with aplomb.

Hosting Guatemalan side Comunicaciones in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals, New York City surprisingly found themselves in enemy territory at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Connecticut.

Despite the relative proximity to New York (Yankee Stadium and Red Bull Arena are not allowed to play for the tournament), spectators signaled majority opposition crowd. The blue flags in the stands were for Guatemala – not the defending MLS champions – and the visitors’ equalizer was met with raucous applause.

Yet what may have been a weakness for the club in the past now looks like a strength. After winning the MLS Cup mostly on the road and dispatching Santos de Guapiles with relative ease to Costa Rica in the first leg of the CCL Round of 16, New York has clearly learned to take comfort in the uncomfortable. Tuesday followed that pattern, as Maxi Moralez regained the lead for New York five minutes after the visitors equalized, and Santi Rodriguez completed a counterattack to cap a 3-1 win.

Coach Ronny Deila laughed after the game when asked if it looked like a home game, and as one Twitter user pointed out, players and staff have barely been in New York since mid-January. This title defense has so far not been crowned with a red carpet.

Talles Magno celebrates his game-winning goal against the Philadelphia Union in last season’s 2-1 Eastern Conference Finals victory.
Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images

Not so long ago, it was a team allergic to big moments. They were trying to find the right “mindset” to win, as James Sands said last year.

“I never doubted that we are more talented than other teams in the playoffs, but when it comes to a playoff game, it’s not always the talent that will win – it’s the effort. , work rate, and just the willingness to sacrifice a little bit for your teammates,” said Sands, who is currently on loan at Rangers in Scotland.

With a banner raising and the club’s first title celebration in store, NYCFC will rightfully enjoy the comforts of home on Saturday. It’s nights like Tuesday, however, that really show how far we’ve come.

More for Morgan

A few months ago – while debating the merits of the Scottish Premier League on Twitter – I was told ex-Celtic player Lewis Morgan had ‘broke’ it in MLS.

Lewis Morgan
Lewis Morgan has had a great start to life with the Red Bulls.
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

It was a somewhat dubious claim based on his two seasons with Inter Miami. But after his debut with the Red Bulls, he might just be perfect.

Morgan was named MLS Player of the Week for the second week of the season after scoring a first-half hat-trick in a 4-1 loss at Toronto. In just two games for New York, the winger has already surpassed his 2021 goal tally (2) and also added an assist in the season opener. He’s clearly enjoying life under Gerhard Struber so far.

When Morgan was traded from Miami to New York, he was undoubtedly sent to a better situation. He is not the first player to post somewhat paltry numbers on a struggling team.

Now, however, Morgan is starting to show why the Red Bulls parted with $1.2m in general allocation money – at the time the highest amount ever guaranteed in cash in a trade – to get it. .

The expensive gamble is worth it so far.

New York Post

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