NYCFC starting to roll after rough start to MLS season

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York City FC
New York City defender Anton Tinnerholm (3) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second half against the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC is finally starting to find its legs during its unprecedented 2020 MLS season.

It only took about five months to do so.

At the regularly-scheduled start of the MLS season in early March, NYCFC dropped its first three matches — including two league tilts and the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Tigres — by scores of 1-0 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted play.

For a team that was considered one of the most dangerous in MLS after a strong attacking showing last season, things didn’t improve upon NYCFC’s return to action at the MLS is Back Tournament in the Orlando bubble, dropping its opener by, you guessed it, 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union. It looked like their tournament would end plenty early when the Blues dropped their second group-stage match to Orlando City SC, 3-1.

With whispers already whirling about the job of first-year manager Ronny Deila, NYCFC found its game, winning four of its last six matches, which included a trip to the MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinals.

Their latest triumph came Saturday night in its third game back to a regular league format following the conclusion of the summer tournament, defeating the Chicago Fire 3-1.

Keaton Park’s opener for City was canceled out just before the half by Mauricio Pineda before two unanswered goals from Anton Tinnerholm and Alex Ring catapulted NYCFC up the standings just a bit more in the Eastern Conference.

Despite their dreadful start, City is in ninth of 14 teams in the East and just five points out of fourth place.

“We had a rough start, there’s no doubt about it. We had a lot of meetings and things got better. But in the end, we have to show it on the pitch,” Tinnerholm said. “It is easy to talk but harder to perform out there. We showed… that we can do it.”

“[Saturday reminded me] me of some games from last season, so we have to keep on doing what we did in the second half here. Now we have some confidence, you can see it in the guys. It’s fun to come in a play some games again, now we have to keep on the momentum that we have started.”

NYCFC has a chance to keep it rolling on Wednesday when it heads to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Revolution.