New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira admitted his team “paid the price” for its wastefulness in front of goal in a 4-1 first leg loss to Columbus Crew SC in MLS’ Eastern Conference semifinals.
Goals from Ola Kamara, Artur, Justin Meram and Harrison Afful gave the host side the upper hand ahead of Sunday’s second leg in New York, while David Villa’s late strike gave his team an away goal that could make a difference in deciding the winner of the tie.
But it could have been a much different outcome for Vieira’s team, with Jack Harrison missing two quality chances in the first half and Villa fluffing his lines more than once, including hitting the post in a one-on-one with Crew keeper Zack Steffan right before the break.
And Vieira said after the match: “We paid the price heavily tonight. When you concede four goals away from home, you make things very difficult for yourselves.
“Of course, it is going to be a tough challenge, but it is a challenge that we are going to try to prepare ourselves for, and get ready for it.
“We’re gonna try. It will be really important to internalize the game tonight and come away with a plan of how to create chances and try not to concede.
“We’re going to give ourselves a good chance. Every time that we play them, we have the opportunity to score goals — not just one, but a few goals.”
Indeed, it was goal scoring that was the problem for NYCFC down the stretch, as a team that scored 47 times in its first 25 matches only found the net nine times in its last nine games before the postseason.
“In the last seven or eight games, when we were struggling to win games a little bit, the content of our game was there,” explained gaffer.
“It’s just, we don’t score goals. When you look at the number of chances we created in the first half, we didn’t take our chances.
“They took their chances and we didn’t take them. When you create so many chances and you only score once, it’s not good enough.”
When the tie returns to Yankee Stadium, the hosts will also have to deal without the services of Alexander Callens. The defender, who played every minute of the regular season for Vieira, was shown a straight red card after video review confirmed he had intentionally elbowed the Crew’s Meram during a set piece.
“It wasn’t easy for us. I think they really put us under pressure after the red card. They scored two goals and we didn’t keep our calm, but I think when you are one man down, the team has to do a little more, and we didn’t do it,” Vieira said.
“When people don’t do that extra, you suffer. And we did.”
Nonetheless. the former France international and Arsenal star said his team wouldn’t go into the match with a defeatist attitude.
“I strongly believe that we can do it,” he said.
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