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NYCFC Behind the Leagues Cup 8 Ball, Lose to Atlas 1-0 at Citi Field

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Jul 23, 2023; Queens, NY, USA; New York City FC defender Braian Cufre (3) reacts during the first half against Atlas FC at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In the New York City Football Club fell in a rematch against last year’s Atlas squad, falling 1-0 at Citi Field in front of a crowd of over 22,000. NYCFC fell behind early, giving up a right legged goal to Aldo Rocha just 7 minutes into the match for the early 1-0 nothing. As mentioned previously, this has been an issue with this squad all season, a strong start to a match, a heartbreaking goal given up and the club is forced to play from behind.

The opportunities were there, including a great shot by Talles Magno late in the first half that went just wide.

As a positive, the 80th minute saw the debut of new acquisition Mounsef Bakrar who replaced Magno and immediately made his presence felt with left footed slide redirect towards goal for only the team’s second shot on goal. To the frustration of many, prior to the 90th minute mark Justin Haak APPEARED to have gotten the equalizer just before the close of regulation, but VAR overturned the goal on account of offsides which left many in debate if it was truly offsides or not. Head Coach Nick Cushing referred to the overturned call as ruining the excitement of the match, as under the rules of Leagues Cup, should a match be tied at the end of regulation both teams go into a shootout, with the winner getting 2 points (and the loser 1).

In the end, NYCFC ends up with 0 points after this match at the halfway point of the opening round. This first round is still salvageable as the team takes on Toronto at “home” at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday with Toronto & Atlas facing each other next Sunday. Should NYCFC pick up more points in that match against Toronto than Toronto do in both their matches, the Cityzens will move onto the round of 32. Otherwise, they’ll have a long layoff until the MLS reason resumes for them on August 20.


1) In a curious twist, NYCFC held possession for 67% of the match, however were outshot 5 to 2 on net.

2) NYCFC had one appearance in Leagues Cup previously, in an 8 team single elimination match against PUMAS back in 2021. They were defeated 1-1 (3-2) after a 3 hour rain delay causing the match to not begin until nearly 10pm. I remember because I had to be on the set of Law and Order SVU the next day at 8am and chugged Cold Brew on set all day.

3) NYCFC’s match on Wednesday would be the first visit of former Goalkeeper Sean Johnson against his old squad on the road, even if it is at Red Bull Arena. He currently posts a 69.9 save percentage with 6 clean sheets on the season for his new club.

4) Wednesday will be the 24th match between the two clubs, with NYCFC going 7-9-7 against the team from the north.

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