Despite the dismal start to the 2019 season, NYCFC have been able to not just rebound but put themselves in rare company as one of the best road teams in Major League Soccer. Now nearing the end of the third month of the season, Dome Torrent’s men are not just poised to zip up the table with games in hand, but provide true competition for DC United at the top of the table with one of the best road records in the entire league.
Currently City are 3-1-3 away from Yankee Stadium, a record that is only matched by LAFC, who are atop the combined standings with 34 points. While it may seem odd to speak of City so highly as they sit in sixth place, their points per game show that they are at least fourth and a series of wings could see them climb to second in the coming weeks.
Much of this has to do with the team finally scoring goals. Early in the campaign, it seemed as if City were leaking goals at inopportune times with little in the way of offense to rebound from the mistakes. Alexandru Mitrita, the team’s first Designated Player signing in the off-season, proved to be potent but not the goal-poacher that many thought he would be. Replacing former captain David Villa wouldn’t be easy but Mitrita’s skill-set was never meant to match the production of the Spanish legend. This is where Heber enters the equation. As soon as the Brazilian striker was fit and on the pitch, the fortunes of NYCFC changed for the better.
In just eight games he has notched three goals and two assists, leading the charge for City’s resurgence in the Eastern Conference. Even when he isn’t on the score sheet, he is a constant threat that has defenses scrambling, allowing for NYC’s other threats to show their skills. Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s three goals and Maxi Moralez’s two goals have all come through the awakening of Heber’s influence on the team moving forward. Combined with a system that puts players in their best position and City seems like a completely different team than what they were in March.
The team has one more game on the road before returning to the welcome confines of Yankee Stadium. A game against a struggling Columbus Crew could be the win that puts their confidence at its zenith. They will host four straight home games against the likes of FC Cincinnati, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and the Philadelphia Union. Tough games but those teams will surely take notice of a City team that may remain with just one loss on their record heading into mid-season. Currently only one other team can claim the same stat with many calling them the best in the league. Should NYC continue this trend, perhaps they should be in that discussion along with their west coast counterpart.