NYCFC Season Discussion 2023: We Know What We Are, But Not What We May Be

Who Is Most To Blame For The Failure Of The 2023 Season?

  • Nick Cushing

    Votes: 7 41.2%
  • David Lee

    Votes: 7 41.2%
  • Brad Sims

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Marty Edelman

    Votes: 1 5.9%
  • CFG

    Votes: 2 11.8%

  • Total voters
    17

mgarbowski

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Nine games in, and the one-quarter mark is behind us. The trade deadline came and went with no late acquisitions for NYCFC. This is the team we have at least until July. I think the last major acquisition for the team in July was Taty in 2018, and none of us understood the import at the time that or thought the team desperately needed another forward. Villa was still around. I think the only previous time the team went into the summer window feeling incomplete and needing offensive punch was in 2015.

NYCFC has 12 goals in 9 games. That's 4th worst our of 8 seasons. Through 9 games, NYCFC scored just 6 goals in 2015, 11 in 2019, and 8 in 2020. In 2019 Coach Torrent complained publicly because Héber was not acquired and available until - Game 5. 2020 was just a hellshow all around. And just for fun, last year the team scored 19 goals in the first 9 games despite being shutout 4 times.

One problem is we're not shooting much since Taty left. Not a complete surprise since he shot more than anyone in MLS by a lot, but shots are way, way down for NYCFC after a lot of consistency.
Shots per game
2018 15.68
2019 15.18
2020 15.48
2021 15.18
2022 before Taty left 15.67
2022 after Taty left 11.77
2023 12.22

Yeah, the quality of chances matter, but Michael Scott understood the wisdom of Wayne Gretzky. Taty took 4.70 shots per game in 2022, meaning the rest of the club added back about 20% of his shots after he left. This year is just a little better. NYCFC needs to shoot more, and they probably need a shameless forward to do that. Or do they. These are very small samples, but in the first 4 games this year NYCFC took 10.5 shots per game, with 1.35 xG and 1.00 Goals/gm. In the last 4 games* those numbers are 15.75 shots, 1.25 xG, and 1.75 Goals per game. Slightly odd how the xG went down with that significant rise in shots and goals, but again -- small sample sizes and Wayne Gretzky.

* Game 5 in the middle was against Houston with just 2 shots and there was no clear way to assign it to the first half or second so I just excluded it.

So maybe Nick unlocked something a few games ago to get the club shooting more. Whatever, things are far from grim. This is not a bad spot to be considering.

Screenshot 2023-04-24 at 7.15.54 AM.png
Screenshot 2023-04-23 at 7.31.28 PM.png
At 15 points, 2023 ranks third among NYCFC seasons. Only 2017 and 2018 were better starts measured by points. The +1 Goal Differential is not so impressive.

Besides the tepid goal scoring, NYCFC concedes too many times on set pieces. We've all noticed. Opposing goals to date are broken down as just 3 from open play, 1 PK, 3 Corners, 2 Free Kicks. Last year it took until Game 28 to concede 5 goals on corners and free kicks. On the other hand, last year NYCFC conceded 6 goals from open play through nine games.

Wide range of possibilities depending on the final 25 games:

Screenshot 2023-04-25 at 9.00.29 AM.png

I'll try to do another roundup around game 17. In the meantime, chat amongst yourselves.
 
Really Nice picture.
As a “not a numbers kind of guy” this:

in the first 4 games this year NYCFC took 10.5 shots per game, with 1.35 xG and 1.00 Goals/gm. In the last 4 games* those numbers are 15.75 shots, 1.25 xG, and 1.75 Goals per game.

got my old decrepit brain working a bit and thinking about the game through stats. Ultimately I fell back on the unsophisticated hoi polloi eye test way of understanding the game. We scored 5 goals in the last 2 games because more Richie D. = better team.

Regardless of my dominant primitive faculties, I appreciate the work. Good stuff.
 
I think the last major acquisition for the team in July was Taty in 2018
Significant players added June or later:

2016 - Chanot, July 16
2017 - Sands, July 1
2018 - Castellanos, July 27
2019 - Mackay-Steven, June 24 (Debated including, but clearly this was an attempt.)
2020 - * year
2021 - Santi, June 9 (Magno added May 19. Also late start to season.)
2022 - Pellegrini, August 19
 
Significant players added June or later:

2016 - Chanot, July 16
2017 - Sands, July 1
2018 - Castellanos, July 27
2019 - Mackay-Steven, June 24 (Debated including, but clearly this was an attempt.)
2020 - * year
2021 - Santi, June 9 (Magno added May 19. Also late start to season.)
2022 - Pellegrini, August 19
I can't believe Amagat didn't make this list. I am sure that was just an oversight. Eloi Amagat July 25, 2018
 
Significant players added June or later:

2016 - Chanot, July 16
2017 - Sands, July 1
2018 - Castellanos, July 27
2019 - Mackay-Steven, June 24 (Debated including, but clearly this was an attempt.)
2020 - * year
2021 - Santi, June 9 (Magno added May 19. Also late start to season.)
2022 - Pellegrini, August 19

I honestly forgot about when Chanot arrived. I should have mentioned him.

I considered the others, and excluded them because my purpose - which perhaps wasn't clear - was to include only players who came in around halfway through a season in the secondary window, and either proved or were meant to be a significant contributor that year. Oddly, the one who came closest for me is the one you say you debated including, because I agree Mackay-Steven probably was an attempt at a mid-season impact player. I even had to fudge the criteria to include Taty (and in doing so I made my intent less clear), as he had just 1 G+A his first half season. Despite that, I'm glad I didn't exclude him on the day he scored 4 on Real Madrid. Circling back to Chanot, he had just 6 appearances (less than half he could have) for less than 500 minutes in 2016.

As for the others:
Sands played 24 minutes his first year.
Pellegrini played 63 minutes last year and in retrospect was not ever part of the 2022 plan despite our hopes and his use this year.

Santi was acquired after 8 games because as you note the season started late and it was still the Primary "Winter" window; Magno was acquired after 5 games. They, plus Heber are partly why many thought the club would do more in the primary window this year. NYCFC does have a history of getting important players in-season but during the primary window. And we returned Sands and added Ledezma this year as well, but many expected at least 1-2 more.

So on my clarified point, I still maintain NYCFC has not obtained a player in the secondary window who had meaningful appearances and impactful contributions the season he arrived since really 2015, with Chanot an edge case in 2016. There were a couple since who maybe were intended to do so but did not work out, and others who became very major contributors, but just not that year.

And I think it's likely the club will try to change that this summer.
 
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NYCFC's Worst Medium and Long Low Point Streaks

2015 2 points in 9 games
2023 3 points in 8 games

2018-19 18 points in 19 games
2022-23 30 points in 32 games (from Taty's departure until now)

Throwing Away Our Shots
My stats hobby-horse for 2023 is Total Shots. That's a little odd because it's a pretty raw stat. The entire reason xG exists is to provide better information than just adding up shots taken. But shots taken isn't useless, and unless a team is exceedingly adept at creating high probability shots, taking more shots needs to be part of how they increase their chance of scoring. It's like exercise. Some types of activity burn more calories than others, but there's no substitute for just exercising more. In MLS, the ratio of 1 Goal for every 9 Shots is pretty steady over large numbers, such as all teams and all players over a full season. Over the last few seasons the numbers were 8.64, 9.53, 8.85, and 9.11.

Here's NYCFC's average team shots per game every year all time, plus the average of their top 5 most active shooter with at least 1,000 minutes in a season (prorated for 2020 and 2023).

201520162017201820192020202120222023
Top5/Gm2.432.772.472.752.923.002.872.751.81
Team/Gm13.1213.6214.2415.6815.1815.4815.1814.1811.47


Of course the drop in shots is all about losing Taty, and Maxi, and Heber, and Thiago, and not getting anyone to replace them and nobody stepping up. Focusing just on Taty:

NYCFC 2022 Under Deila 16.46 Shots per game and 1.88 xG/Gm
NYCFC 2022 Under Nick with Taty 14.38 Shots/Gm and 2.12 xG/Gm
NYCFC 2022-23 since Taty left 10.77 Shots/Gm and 1.13 xG/Gm

Our top three Shots per game players in the first part of 2022 before Taty left were Taty, Thiago, and Heber. Gone, gone, and gone. Maxi was sixth. Callens was 10th.
Nobody stepped up. Here are the shots per game for the most prolific remaining shooters with Taty in 2022, 2022 after he left, and 2023. I also added Ledezma and Segal, who have played 722 and 373 minutes respectively.

2022 With Taty2022 After Taty Left2023
Gaby2.342.022.37
Talles2.331.881.70
Santi1.811.671.57
Keaton1.661.991.25
Ledezma1.86
Segal2.57

Keaton stepped up his shot rate the second half of last year, and that's not even his job. Everyone else immediately went down, and except for Gaby Pereira, who basically is just where he was in 2022 with Taty, everyone shot even less in 2023. Is it a Maxi effect? Maybe, but I've previously shown how the team had handled Maxi's absences quite well while he was here. Also most MLS teams don't have a Maxi level playmaker and NYCFC ranks 19 for shots taken, 23rd in xG, and 24th in Goals per game. I see no excuse for Talles's or Santi's shots per game to just keep going down by so much. And I've no idea how the FO looked at these numbers and thought, "Let's start 2023 without replacing Taty, and also without Heber or Thiago, and it will be fine." We're terrible both because we didn't replace those guys and most of the players who would be filling the gap are making it worse.


It's a Kreis-is

NYCFC 2023 vs. 2015:
Screenshot 2023-06-12 at 9.29.40 AM.png

We have not had to worry about the playoff line in a while. Right now the East looks like it could come in at around the mid-40s.

Screenshot 2023-06-12 at 9.36.09 AM.png

How to get there, including some ridiculous aspirational goals.
Screenshot 2023-06-12 at 9.38.34 AM.png
Win 8 or 9 remaining games at least to be in range, and more to be certain.

Schedule: It Don't Come Easy

The Home/Away blended PPG of the next 9 opponents is 1.91. Four of those 9 are before the transfer window opens. Another 2 are within 4 days of the transfer window opening. Feeling good? The opposing PPG for the last 8 games is 0.95, but the hole can get pretty deep before we get there. Buckle up.
 
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Yep, The schedule eases up in the last eight games but the question is will it still matter or will they be completely buried by then. The underlying numbers say more pain is coming and the transfer window will be too late. Buckle up indeed.
 
Yep, The schedule eases up in the last eight games but the question is will it still matter or will they be completely buried by then. The underlying numbers say more pain is coming and the transfer window will be too late. Buckle up indeed.
The underlying xG numbers say this team should be better than it is. Total xGD, NYCFC is 17th in the league, 15th in xGD in open play, and 18th in expected points (all per ASA).

Now that said, none of those are up to NYCFC's standard since 2016 and I do think that some luck coming NYCFC's way along with a few impact signings would be enough to get this team into the playoffs, but perhaps not a home game.

NYCFC has actually been a bit unlucky this year. But even if they were to "even out" that luck, we're talking about moving from 13th in the Eastern Conf table up to 10th.
 
I’m sure that mgarbowski mgarbowski is the expert in this, but “lucky” or “unlucky” trends can stick for a whole season, meaning we shouldn’t expect that all of a sudden goals will start going in or ref calls our way.

I’m thinking back to when LAFC missed the playoffs, I believe their underlying xG numbers were way better and deserving of a playoff spot, just they had a brutal season.
 
Now that said, none of those are up to NYCFC's standard since 2016 and I do think that some luck coming NYCFC's way along with a few impact signings would be enough to get this team into the playoffs, but perhaps not a home game.
If they add a couple of set piece goals over the next several games while while not giving up any, or maybe just one, that could flip the luck a little bit and earn a few extra points to set the team up for the final easier stretch with some reinforcements we hope.
I’m sure that @
mgarbowski
mgarbowski is the expert in this, but “lucky” or “unlucky” trends can stick for a whole season, meaning we shouldn’t expect that all of a sudden goals will start going in or ref calls our way.
You never expect it to even out. You can expect it to be even from here on out over enough games. The rest of the season is not enough games. A season is not enough games. It can go any direction. But there's also no reason to expect the bad luck to continue. And hey, we're only the 7th most unlucky team this year, far behind Colorado, the Galaxy, RB, and Minnesota.

By the same measurements, NYC has been mostly lucky. From 2016-22, NYC was the 5th luckiest team by GD-xGD, and 9th luckiest by Pts-xPts (on a per game basis so expansion teams on equal footing).