Are New York’s MLS Sides Past Early Season Struggles?

Goal of the Year, Villa, Bradley Wright-Phillips, MLS
David Villa, Bradley Wright-Phillips are nominated for MLS Goal of the Year.

Villa_BWPIt’s been a less than stellar start to the Major League Soccer season for the New York area’s two teams. But as April turns to May, there may be signs that something other than the weather is beginning to warm.

The quality of the soccer played by New York City FC and New York Red Bulls through the first nine games of each team’s season has been challenging at best to watch. The overlapping issue for the Blues and Reds has been each team’s defensive play. Red Bulls have been forced to retool after losing Matt Miazga to Premier League side Chelsea. In the Bronx, new NYC FC head coach Patrick Vieira has experimented with several formations that at times have left its keeper Josh Saunders on an island.

In fact, through nine games, NYC FC’s 15 goals allowed are second most in the Eastern Conference, trailing only Red Bulls, who have allowed 17.

NYC FC’s early season struggles were not unexpected. Starting its second season and under the leadership of a new head coach, there were bound to be growing pains and points of frustration. But a 3-2 win over Vancouver on the final day of April could prove to be the elixir to what has been ailing the Citizens.

Across the river in Harrison, the reigning Supporter’s Shield winners have struggled on defense and offense through the first two months. Miazga’s departure was huge and left Jesse Marsch with work to do to improve his back line. In addition, the offense through Bradley-Wright Phillips and Sacha Kljestan — with the exception of the team’s 4-0 win over Dallas to end April — struggled to find an identity.

Despite the poor start to the 2016 campaign for both teams, things are beginning to look up. Red Bulls ended April with home wins over Orlando City (3-2) and the aforementioned Dallas clean sheet. NYC FC went seven games without a win, although it did managed to net a point out of four of those matches. It closed out the year’s fourth month with the victory over Vancouver.

And both teams closed out April in playoff position. Clearly more will need to be done over the next few months by both sides, but the summer should prove to be an interesting time for New York’s two MLS sides.