New York City FC defeated the LA Galaxy on Saturday, plunging the Galaxy farther into their own little abyss. They continue to generate little opportunities on goal — they came up with just one shot on target against NYC — and they failed to score once again, losing 1-0 to the East's best team.
David Villa's goal was indeed offside, so LA fans have a valid complaint, but New York were clearly the better team throughout the game, as they threatened Clemont Diop's goal over and over again, and they easily could have had more than one goal. This is evidenced by their very crowded shot chart:
That's 18 shots, seven of which on goal. This is obviously a problem for the Galaxy, but it also exhibits the Pigeons' ability to get in the box and cause havoc in danger areas. They do this in ways that not many teams in MLS are able to do.
The skill-sets of wingers Tommy McNamara and Jack Harrison — which are not shared by many other MLS wingers — are crucial to Patrick Viera's attack. They both like to cut inside and overload centrally, McNamara with off-the-ball movement and Harrison with creative dribbling, and in doing this, they produce shots for themselves and others.
Harrison has carved out a Rookie of the Year campaign by beating left backs on the dribble and firing shots off with his left foot, while McNamara will take up positions in the channels and drag defenders around to create chances for Villa and Frank Lampard, and the occasional long-shot golazo will pop up every once in a while.
Many of MLS's top wingers make a living off of spreading the field, getting to the touchline, and sending in crosses. Fabian Castillo did that, and Kekuta Manneh, Ignacio Piatti, and Joao Plata do that more than anything else. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that style of play, but because there are so many who do that, teams have trouble getting goals from more than just their striker or a center midfielder.
A perfect example of this is Sporting KC. They were struggling to come up with goals, and they needed more players to get in the box and take direct shots on net. Thus, Jacob Peterson has replaced US-international Graham Zusi as their starting right winger.
NYCFC, then, have hit the jackpot with McNamara and, especially, Harrison. They help Villa get into scoring positions more often, and they open up space for second and third runs from Lampard or Ronald Matarrita or even Andoni Iraola. And they're dangerous by themselves too.
Just take a look at this compilation of Harrison's attacking moves:
He's a unique specimen, and a very dangerous one for opposing teams. He dribbles like the ball is stuck to his feet, and he puts defenders on skates with impressive skill moves. There's no doubt that he has the talent to be a staple of the English national team in the future.
In the meantime, NYC have some serious talent on their hands. We'll see if it's enough for them to hold onto their Eastern Conference lead.
— Toronto FC are really good. They beat another Eastern Conference contender (the Philadelphia Union) on Saturday, keeping them within a point of the top spot. Jozy Altidore is back and he again played incredibly well, his performance highlighted by this goal:
Sebastian Giovinco's playing off him expertly, and with other creative attacking options like Jonathan Osorio and Jay Chapman surrounding them, defenses will allow loads of goals. With FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids struggling to find consistent finishing, I wouldn't rule them out of the Supporters' Shield race.
— Colorado and Orlando City played to a non-eventful 0-0 draw marked by simple possession and a lack of offensive incisiveness. Neither club really made much of a move toward the other team's goal — Orlando because they were content with an away draw and Colorado because they were counting on a scrappy set piece goal in the 85th-minute — and the result wasn't exactly aesthetically pleasing.
The Rapids need to be able to win home games against lower-tier Eastern Conference opponents, just like they should be able to win home matches against higher-tier Western Conference opponents. They remain tops in the league in points-per-game, so they should theoretically be the Shield favorites, but with the lack of production from their attacking stalwarts, they could end up deferring to FCD or TFC in the race.