In the moments after the Union's 3-1 loss at New York City FC on Sunday, Alejandro Bedoya did not shy away from the most important reason his team had gotten run over.
"We struggled a little bit in the first half with their wingers getting tucked in, staying compact, and they caused some problems," he said. "We were struggling with our wingers and our outside backs. … We've just got to stay more compact in the middle and not let them play those easy balls between us, between the lines."
That was far more important than the exchange of shouts between Cory Burke and Borek Dockal at the end of the first half that was blown into a conflagration by a media corps looking for something to pounce on. Anger in the heat of the moment can be smoothed over, and should be between now and Wednesday's rematch at Yankee Stadium. And as Bedoya put it, there's some virtue in having "a fiery edge" when down by 3-1 after 45 minutes.
What should really have the Union's attention is the havoc wrought by the playing style of New York's wingers. Yes, this has been said already a few times this week, but it was previously put in the context of why Fafa Picault and C.J. Sapong needed to adjust to not having the amount of space out wide that they're accustomed to. Now, it needs to be put in the context of how the Union's wide players defend their New York counterparts.
Against the Union, Jesús Medina had nine completed passes and four shots in the center of the half of the field New York attacked. Left winger Ronald Matarrita had nine completed passes and one shot. Left back Alex Callens had 19 completed passes in the corresponding space at the other end of the field, one in the Union's half, and a shot.
What can the Union do about this on Wednesday? More focus on it from the defense will help, obviously. They might also want to give New York a dose of their own medicine.
The Union have had a lot of success this year playing high, wide balls to Sapong for him to corral and send on to teammates. That didn't work Sunday, and it probably won't again Wednesday. But in Ilsinho, the Union have a player who can do unto City what's been done to them. He might not be able to go all 90 minutes, but if he can go 45 to 60, it would help the Union a lot more than if he plays as a second-half substitute.