Head Coach Chris Armas isn’t one to dwell on his team’s failings and found solace in his team’s defensive form after a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew in the first leg of the MLS Cup Eastern Conference Semifinal. The loss comes after weeks of New York looking strong on offense and defensively. The Crew limited the Red Bulls’ chances and took advantage of their limited number opportunities.
Armas Takes Solace in Defense Despite Upset Loss
“We limited them to six shots on the night,” said Armas after the game. “We feel good about the way we managed their attack and their attackers. Whether they’re trying to build out of the back or trying to play direct and stretch us, we understand what they do and why they do it.”
Despite that understanding, New York is still heading back to Red Bull Arena down 1-0 on aggregate. It may seem like a small lead but this team has faltered in the past when having the advantage. Just two seasons ago, New York failed to score in the away leg against the Montreal Impact and then weren’t able to deliver despite having a high-powered offense that year. The pressure is on and while Armas is keeping his cool, the team’s history of playoff disappointment can’t help but sneak into consciousness.
Conversion in key moments is something that has haunted this team over their history. Bradley Wright-Phillips missed a golden chance in leg one against the previously mentioned Montreal series and had another major opportunity but couldn’t convert. All credit can be given to the Crew’s keeper Zack Steffen but the lack of converting still falls on the striker who has only scored three total goals in the playoffs since 2015. His most effective campaign came in 2014 where he scored four, including two clutch goals in a knockout game against Sporting KC.
“The games aren’t easy,” said Armas. “Columbus defends well, they are organized, they get numbers behind the ball. I think that if we’re a little bit calmer in the moment and a little bit sharper up the field, then I think we can create more clear-cut chances.”
New York and their fans will have a week to stew on this result and hope to change the course of recent playoff history. The team returns to Red Bull Arena on November 11th for the deciding game in the Eastern Conference Semifinal.