NYCFC Season Discussion 2024: The Definition of NYCFC is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over and Getting the Same Result

mgarbowski

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Usually I wait until 9 games to start the season thread, but I can't wait this year. It's so frustrating, and I had a thought I don't want lost in the Miami game thread. I'm even going to copy over something I wrote there:

NYCFC has scored 0.61 goals per Away game in 21 MLS Away games in combined 2023-24. This year the rate is 0.25. It's literally the opposite of progress. 10 of those 21 games have been shutouts. Add in Cup games and the numbers are 0.57 G/GM and 12 shutouts in 23 games. The last time NYCFC scored more than 1 goal Away in any competition was June 21, 2023. Last night was an improvement only in the sense that in the first 3 Away games this year NYCFC scored nothing.

So here's my worst case scenario prediction. This is not necessarily what I think will happen but it is what I fear might happen. And it is worst case not because it is the lowest possible outcome, but because it is just good enough to paper over the lack of quality and actual improvement. NYCFC's next 5 games are at home. They won't be tested Away again until May 11 and 15. Moreover, 10 of the next 15 games are at home, followed by 4 straight Away. So imagine, if you will, NYCFC does reasonably OK in the 10 Home games, maybe just 2-3 losses and 17-22 points. And maybe they kind of muddle through with 2-5 points in those 5 Away games for 20-27 points in 15 games and the overall PPG masks what is really a continued Away horror. But we just went through the middle half of the season seeming kind of OK.

Then there are 4 consecutive Away games before Leagues Cup against struggling teams and NYC gets 0-2 points because they still never score more than 1 goal Away, and now the club has maybe 30-34 points in 25 Games. That's better than last year and probably on pace for a bottom tier playoff spot with 9 games left, but those 9 include Home games against Cincinnati, Miami, and Philly, plus Away to Columbus and Red Bulls and really this team is just treading water barely above last year's pace, with maybe the same coach and a young roster that is not improving because they don't get consistent minutes. And no changes are made because the record over 15 games of which 10 are at Home makes it look pretty good.

I really hope I'm wrong. I have not felt this much doom since around the RSL game in 2016, and the club made me look the fool the rest of the year.
 
Opposite of last year when the final ~8 games were against relatively bad teams and NYCFC started picking up points, masking what was an overall putrid year (remember 1 win in 17 games?). That good finish masked what was an absolutely awful year.

Sounds like this year there will be more fools gold earlier in the year with then a rough schedule at the end, which will cause them to hold on to Cushing longer and say “we were in it and slipped at the end”. Yikes.
 
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Sounds like this year there will be more fools gold earlier in the year with then a rough schedule at the end, which will cause them to hold on to Cushing longer and say “we were in it and slipped at the end”. Yikes.
I agree with the first part but disagree with the second part above. No way that Cushing keeps his job if we don’t make the playoffs. I think he will be gone in one way or another if we don’t make it because of all the signings we made. Cfg won’t let that investment and potential talent (and potential payday) be wasted
 
No way that Cushing keeps his job if we don’t make the playoffs. I think he will be gone in one way or another if we don’t make it because of all the signings we made. Cfg won’t let that investment and potential talent (and potential payday) be wasted
I think if we miss then both Lee and Cushing might go. My worry is instead we get 43-47 points, barely make the playoffs, and nothing changes.

I really need the Away game form to change just so the season is watchable. 0.60 G/Gm doesn't cut it.
 
As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’d rather lose under an interim/new manager than win under Cushing. Even so, the latter isn’t happening much.
 
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Usually I wait until 9 games to start the season thread, but I can't wait this year. It's so frustrating, and I had a thought I don't want lost in the Miami game thread. I'm even going to copy over something I wrote there:

NYCFC has scored 0.61 goals per Away game in 21 MLS Away games in combined 2023-24. This year the rate is 0.25. It's literally the opposite of progress. 10 of those 21 games have been shutouts. Add in Cup games and the numbers are 0.57 G/GM and 12 shutouts in 23 games. The last time NYCFC scored more than 1 goal Away in any competition was June 21, 2023. Last night was an improvement only in the sense that in the first 3 Away games this year NYCFC scored nothing.

So here's my worst case scenario prediction. This is not necessarily what I think will happen but it is what I fear might happen. And it is worst case not because it is the lowest possible outcome, but because it is just good enough to paper over the lack of quality and actual improvement. NYCFC's next 5 games are at home. They won't be tested Away again until May 11 and 15. Moreover, 10 of the next 15 games are at home, followed by 4 straight Away. So imagine, if you will, NYCFC does reasonably OK in the 10 Home games, maybe just 2-3 losses and 17-22 points. And maybe they kind of muddle through with 2-5 points in those 5 Away games for 20-27 points in 15 games and the overall PPG masks what is really a continued Away horror. But we just went through the middle half of the season seeming kind of OK.

Then there are 4 consecutive Away games before Leagues Cup against struggling teams and NYC gets 0-2 points because they still never score more than 1 goal Away, and now the club has maybe 30-34 points in 25 Games. That's better than last year and probably on pace for a bottom tier playoff spot with 9 games left, but those 9 include Home games against Cincinnati, Miami, and Philly, plus Away to Columbus and Red Bulls and really this team is just treading water barely above last year's pace, with maybe the same coach and a young roster that is not improving because they don't get consistent minutes. And no changes are made because the record over 15 games of which 10 are at Home makes it look pretty good.

I really hope I'm wrong. I have not felt this much doom since around the RSL game in 2016, and the club made me look the fool the rest of the year.

I think if NYCFC does anything worse than 3-1-1 on this homestand, Cushing is gone. The record is still 1-4-1 right now. If we go 2-2-1 on the homestand and are 3-6-2 through 11 games, that's not something that can be papered over.

But yes, your scenario is possible. I do think there is more urgency to win this year. I do think Cushing is feeling the heat based on some of the passionate ways he's been answering questions. I think this team needs to go at least 3-1-1 in this homestand to save his job. This team is 1-4-1 right now - there's no chance we were expecting that.
 
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I think if we miss then both Lee and Cushing might go. My worry is instead we get 43-47 points, barely make the playoffs, and nothing changes.

I really need the Away game form to change just so the season is watchable. 0.60 G/Gm doesn't cut it.

As difficult as it would be to watch if the choice is between being terrible or being a mediocre midtable team going no where I might go with terrible. CFG needs a wake-up call. MLS is a parity-driven league where every roster mechanism needs to be maximized to compete for trophies. CFG has to stop this game of something for NYCFC but it also has to be something for CFG too.

We can't waste a DP spot on a CB just because he's already on Yokohama and CFG wants to move him. Did we need a CB, absolutely, but we only have a DP CB because the CB we got to sign also had to help CFG.

We can't waste U-22 slots on players like Ojeda who is surely talented based on his valuation but is a multi-year development project that CFG wanted in their talent pool.

Martins, Ojeda, Fernandez, Jovan are all talented players but none of them would be on our roster if you signed players purely through the lens of what's best for NYCFC instead of what's good for both NYCFC and CFG.
 
I think if NYCFC does anything worse than 3-1-1 on this homestand, Cushing is gone. The record is still 1-4-1 right now. If we go 2-2-1 on the homestand and are 3-6-2 through 11 games, that's not something that can be papered over.
What frustrates me is that 3-1-1 at home proves nothing. That's 10 points or 2.0 PPG. Last year they had a late 5 game home stand that earned 11 points (2.2 PPG). There also was an early 3 game home stand that earned 7 points, also above 2.0 PPG. Overall last year the Home PPG was 1.77, which is low for NYCFC but the same as in 2016. The difference is 2016 earned 1.41 PPG Away and 2023 won 0.65 PPG Away.

Last year's Home PPG was 14% below the team Home average from 2016-22. Last year's Away PPG was 49% lower than 2016-2022. So far this year we suck even more away. You can't fix this team by doing OK , good, or even great at Home. They need to start winning Away in a range consistent with team history. But there are only 5 chances to do that in the next 3 months. This is the point of the first post in this thread. We're nearly certain to do pretty good at Home, and it's just going to paper over the total disgrace of the team's Away form. Maybe they start winning in those 5 Away games. The results of the 10 Home games can prove nothing helpful.

Put another way, Home games can only support negative conclusions with this team, and only Away games can justify positive ones. Winning at Home and dropping points Away is baked into the formula.
 
On March 5 I wrote:
OTOH, I wonder if Lee/CFG are playing a different long game than we think. We all thought they basically sacrificed 2023. What if they also built the roster to be non-competitive in 2024, but to take off for a 2-4 year run from 2025-2028?
I'm going to double down on this. I think CFG built this team to have a couple of down years in preparation for a run. We are not a team that will win now. We are a development team designed to hit our stride in 2025-28.

That said, no truer words than:
We can't waste a DP spot on a CB
 
Wife: If you're getting frustrated why do you continue watching this year?

Me:

i_love_trash___sesame_street_by_jamaicanqba_d3ftckg-375w-2x.jpg
 
More on Away form. Here's the average goals scored per game Away from 2015 to 2022:
0.94, 1.59, 1.35, 1.35, 1.71, 1.08, 1.12, 1.18.
2023-24 blended is 0.62. You can also see that the Away form started falling under Deila but it has accelerated under Cushing. I don't think the Ronny drop was an accident, I think he shared Nick's penchant for playing close Away, but he had better players and was maybe a bit more aggressive than Cushing though less than his predecessors.
 
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On March 5 I wrote:

I'm going to double down on this. I think CFG built this team to have a couple of down years in preparation for a run. We are not a team that will win now. We are a development team designed to hit our stride in 2025-28.

That said, no truer words than:
Others have speculated that this rebuild has a 2025-28 target for fruition. Where I think the club failed in 2023 and so far this year is they expected to perform considerably better than they have. I think they expected a 5-9 finish last year and 3-7 this year. Last year was a miss and while early, this year's trend is well below that target.
 
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On March 5 I wrote:

I'm going to double down on this. I think CFG built this team to have a couple of down years in preparation for a run. We are not a team that will win now. We are a development team designed to hit our stride in 2025-28.

That said, no truer words than:
Respectfully disagree. CFG didn't spend million$ for any of these kids to be here for any length of time. Ojeda, Mijatavic et al were sent to the Bronx to be show cased and sold asap for that huge ROI. If any of them are still here after next season it means they're more Magno than Gabby.
 
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Respectfully disagree. CFG didn't spend million$ for any of these kids to be here for any length of time. Ojeda, Mijatavic et al were sent to the Bronx to be show cased and sold asap for that huge ROI. If any of them are still here after next season it means they're more Magno than Gabby.

The prime age to sell these kids is when they're 20-21, I think. So yes, I agree -- they were expected to help this season. Maybe they're being brought along slowly at the start of the year, but at some point we're going to have to take the training wheels off and see what we have.
 
What frustrates me is that 3-1-1 at home proves nothing. That's 10 points or 2.0 PPG. Last year they had a late 5 game home stand that earned 11 points (2.2 PPG). There also was an early 3 game home stand that earned 7 points, also above 2.0 PPG. Overall last year the Home PPG was 1.77, which is low for NYCFC but the same as in 2016. The difference is 2016 earned 1.41 PPG Away and 2023 won 0.65 PPG Away.

Last year's Home PPG was 14% below the team Home average from 2016-22. Last year's Away PPG was 49% lower than 2016-2022. So far this year we suck even more away. You can't fix this team by doing OK , good, or even great at Home. They need to start winning Away in a range consistent with team history. But there are only 5 chances to do that in the next 3 months. This is the point of the first post in this thread. We're nearly certain to do pretty good at Home, and it's just going to paper over the total disgrace of the team's Away form. Maybe they start winning in those 5 Away games. The results of the 10 Home games can prove nothing helpful.

Put another way, Home games can only support negative conclusions with this team, and only Away games can justify positive ones. Winning at Home and dropping points Away is baked into the formula.

Agreed on this. I do, however, believe that Cushing is on an actual hot seat right now, and that he needs to get results soon. I do not believe the organization has any appetite for a repeat of last season.

That being said, what is the record Cushing needs to survive past this homestand? Because when this homestand ends, we are around 33% done with the season. That seems like a reasonable spot to evaluate the coaching staff. I think if our results aren't vastly improved over these next five games, he's gone. We are 1-4-1 right now -- if we go 3-1-1, we're 4-5-1. Is that enough for him to survive? Do we need an undefeated homestand for him to stick around? I think his seat is burning hot right now, I really do.

I completely agree that the road results need to improve. But I increasingly believe it will be a new coach who tries to change those results, because one way or another I don't think Cushing survives this homestand.
 
Agreed on this. I do, however, believe that Cushing is on an actual hot seat right now, and that he needs to get results soon. I do not believe the organization has any appetite for a repeat of last season.

That being said, what is the record Cushing needs to survive past this homestand? Because when this homestand ends, we are around 33% done with the season. That seems like a reasonable spot to evaluate the coaching staff. I think if our results aren't vastly improved over these next five games, he's gone. We are 1-4-1 right now -- if we go 3-1-1, we're 4-5-1. Is that enough for him to survive? Do we need an undefeated homestand for him to stick around? I think his seat is burning hot right now, I really do.

I completely agree that the road results need to improve. But I increasingly believe it will be a new coach who tries to change those results, because one way or another I don't think Cushing survives this homestand.
I think he’s safe with 9-10 points, roughly in line with you. But I don’t think 13 or even 15 points prove anything. That would be good, but not proof of improvement.
ETA: 9 is borderline danger zone. Would not be surprised to see him go.
ETAA: the order also matters. 4 points in the first 3 games means he might not get the chance to earn 10 in 5.
 
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On March 5 I wrote:

I'm going to double down on this. I think CFG built this team to have a couple of down years in preparation for a run. We are not a team that will win now. We are a development team designed to hit our stride in 2025-28.

I don't understand the rebuild theories for a couple of reasons.

1. There is no incentive in the MLS to do a long slow rebuild. You don't get franchise-changing players from having high picks in the Super Draft. There isn't the salary disparity between players on their rookie deals vs veteran deals like there is in other salary-capped leagues that force teams to go through a roster rebuild every few years.

2. Based on their young age and over $5M transfer fees Jovan, Ojeda, and Fernadez don't fit the timeline. The moment any of them reach the potential that their valuation projects they will expect to be sold to Europe. If they fail to reach that potential then the transfer fee we paid for them is a loss. Neither of those scenarios helps us build towards a 2025-28 window.

Some teams need 1-2 years to integrate players, learn a system, and get used to playing with each other so I could buy into a short rebuild plan but it would look different than this. Those types of development builds happen by assembling your core and building toward the window. The big $ investments we are making right now don't match that type of plan because those players will only be here for 4 years if they are total flops.

Personally, I think CFG is underestimating the quality of MLS. The European decision-makers think that if guys like Jovan or Ojeda are good enough to be on the roster of a top European team in a few years they should easily be able to excel in the MLS right now. I honestly think they thought they could get the young prospects that they wanted for their farm system and help NYCFC succeed this season. To me the moves we are making show strong signs of an organization that is not respecting how much the quality of play has risen in the league. They are acting like their superior scouting network and willingness to spend will allow them to just pick talented players that they want without any consideration for fit or level of experience.
 
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On March 5 I wrote:

I'm going to double down on this. I think CFG built this team to have a couple of down years in preparation for a run. We are not a team that will win now. We are a development team designed to hit our stride in 2025-28.

That said, no truer words than:

along with the timeline/expectation points others have made, another big issue is that cushing doesn't seem to be good at developing players. we've seen nothing but regression in nearly everyone.
 
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Thinking about it more I still think the most plausible explanation is that CFG thought we could be good with this roster and underestimated the league and/or overestimated the readiness of the players they signed. If I were to buy into the idea that this is all part of some long-term master plan from CFG this would be my wildly speculative guess:

The plan is to open the stadium with an attacking front line of high-profile, big-name players from Europe. To be ready for that they need to build out stability along our back line and in the midfield, which they are doing but they don't really care about the attack because the incoming players will fill those spots. So they have these attacking roster spots that only need to be filled for a few years so they thought why not use them to stash some prospects and see if they can make a bit of money on transfer fees if they pan out.
 
Personally, I think CFG is underestimating the quality of MLS. The European decision-makers think that if guys like Jovan or Ojeda are good enough to be on the roster of a top European team in a few years they should easily be able to excel in the MLS right now. I honestly think they thought they could get the young prospects that they wanted for their farm system and help NYCFC succeed this season. To me the moves we are making show strong signs of an organization that is not respecting how much the quality of play has risen in the league. They are acting like their superior scouting network and willingness to spend will allow them to just pick talented players that they want without any consideration for fit or level of experience.
I almost lean this way, but two things don't align with it.

First, we're not even playing the kids. Which means either they forced these kids on Nick when he didn't want them, or they did not expect the kids to be ready. If it is the former, they should have put a different coach in place. I think it's the latter.
Second, they have no solid record of getting strong immediate performance from youth. Taty scored 1, 11 and 6 goals in 2018-20 (2018 a half season). Talles scored 2, 7 and 4 his first 3 years. Thiago Andrade 4, 5 and 1. Medina 6, 3, 5 and 9. Even Jack Harrison was only 4 and 10. Pereira moderately better at 8 and 6 in 1.5 seasons before transfer. Santi 3, 4 and 5 (with 10 assists in Year 2). And Santi was 21, at the high end of the youth range among these guys. I think the club has made mistakes, and can make them repeatedly (see thread title), but I don't think they suddenly expected the 2024 teenagers to outperform all their prior teenagers.
I also circle back to the Cushing interview clip I posted a week or two ago where he is talking about a long horizon development project for this team.

I think the big fail from the club perspective is the Bakrar-Santi combo. Bakrar showed up 16 games ago, nearly half a season. They are 24 and 23, not fully mature mid-career players but not green kids either. They both start every game when available. Combined they have 8 goals and 3 assists in those 16 games. That's not enough for a starting 9 and DP 10/swiss army knife who should be the engine of the team. And after them there is close to nothing. We used to get a non-insignificant number of goals from our CBs, and our 6, and at least one fullback. None of that has been replaced.
 
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