Category Archives: New York City FC

New York City FC

Dome said knock you out – NYCFC shuts out Columbus Crew 2-0

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

Photos by Tisha Gale // @TishaGale

Between three home NYCFC games and the final rounds of Wimbledon and the World Cup last week, there was little spare time last week to do anything but take in the sporting spectacles.  And were they long ones- from 6-hour men’s Wimbledon matches to Croatia going to penalty kick shootouts in back to back matches, the key word was stamina.

Our own New York City Football Club tested their own stamina and fitness this past week with three games in seven days and came away with glowing marks earning three wins – all shutouts.  Last Wednesday, while walking into the press box, “Mama Said Knock You Out” was playing in the hallway and I immediately knew it was a good omen.  I mean who could forget the previous visit local legend LL Cool J made to Yankee Stadium?

This past Saturday New York City dug into the depths of the roster and into the magic of coach Domènec Torrent to pull out a huge 2-0 win over the visiting Columbus Crew.  You cannot talk about New York City’s success right now without adding the cherry on top which is that the team is winning without the injured David Villa.  This was unimaginable in prior years.

For the first few years of our club’s existence, he was our Obi-Wan Kenobi – our only hope. In this match the team had to face Columbus without Villa, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Jo Inge Berget – basically the whole forward line. In the absence of many obvious options, coach Dome started Rodney Wallace, Ronald Matarrita and Jesus Medina up top.

Watching the first half of the game at Yankee Stadium behind Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen, I couldn’t keep my eyes off Medina.  He was everywhere trying to create plays, open up space, apply pressure, running at Steffen, making crosses and rebounding shots.  He was working his tail off.

Medina is only 21 years old and I know that NYCFC fans are impatient for a Designated Player to quickly start making “contributions” to the goal scoring rolls but I see a very calculated and cerebral player.  He looks like he’s always thinking and strategizing, yes sometimes to his detriment, but I believe he plays much better when NYCFC coaching and players give him the freedom to be creative on the field.

In the second half of this match, Medina executed beautifully on a pass from Jonathan Lewis,  smartly taking an extra second to hammer a shot accurately past Steffen.  Wingback Anton Tinnerholm added an insurance goal on a counter attack in which he successfully cut past the Columbus defender and Steffen, easily knocking the ball into the goal.  Looks of shock switched to giggles as he celebrated by karate kicking the corner flag.

Despite the score and the smart play of NYCFC, the game could have easily gone the other way as Columbus had 11 shots in the first half with 5 of them inexplicably going over the top or wide.  This was not an easy game by any means.

Much of this depth is due to Vieira’s building of the team last pre-season but the level and versatility of play seems to have improved in the past few weeks under Dome with game results speaking for themselves. Torrent has the expertise to see what the team is doing well and what needs to be adjusted pretty quickly and he must give incredible half-time talks.

All three games went to halftime with 0-0 scores and ended with shutouts. Dome also has been giving young players like Lewis and Kwame Awuah chances to contribute and switched things up by putting Matarrita into a more attacking role, something he’s done very successfully for his previous club and for the Costa Rican national team.

So was LL Cool J there in person last week bringing his previous good vibes or were they coming through via musical inspiration?  NYCFC’s next game is July 26th away at Orlando City Soccer Club.  I’m optimistic that the team can carry this successful momentum to the road. And Mr. Smith, please feel free to come to any and all games.

#SaveTheCrew

Images by Tisha Gale 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

NYCFC make an impact on Montréal, winning 3-0

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City FC has a tight schedule this week and faced the second of its three opponents on July 11th at home versus Impact Montréal.  The game was a snooze fest in the scoreless first half, with very little happening offensively besides some fruitless crosses by NYCFC wing Rodney Wallace and some relentless verbal tormenting of Montréal goalkeeper Evan Bush.

IMG_0602

Something happened during half time though, (besides this wedding proposal, ripe with a “Marry Me” NYCFC jersey!)

The Boys in Grey came out with fire in their bellies and under their feet opening up the scoring flood gates with three beautiful and very different styled goals by Jesús Medina at the 60th minute:

Ronald Matarrita at 65′:

Jonathan Lewis at 76′:

After the second goal, Montréal seemed to lose all their energy, barely pressing forward.  Recently lethal striker Ignacio Piatti did his best to make runs, looking for something magical to come his way but City defenders Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha easily shut him down.  Montréal’s lack of high (or even medium) press, allowed NYCFC to play out of the back for much of the game, which thankfully gave goalkeeper Sean Johnson something to do as he didn’t need to make a single save.

Some intel I learned postgame:

  • Jonathan Lewis, despite being “half English” is rooting for France, admires the playing style of Kylian Mbappe and Raheem Sterling and “said [a while back] that Croatia would go to the [World Cup] finals.”
  • In a week with three tightly scheduled games, Sean Johnson spoke of the importance of rest to stay sharp and the team’s focus on tactics. Interestingly, Johnson regularly incorporates yoga and pilates into his training year-round.
  • Ronald Matarrita is “always trying to score goals” and hopes that we all get to know him a bit better as a player.

NYCFC faces the Columbus Crew on Saturday July 14th at home.  Remember when we had to play them at “home” at Citifield?  Related to that, a New York Times article was released during the Montreal game about another possible stadium site.

Someday we will have our own home…

Images by Tisha Gale and Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

NYCFC squeak past the NY Red Bulls 1-0 at the #HudsonRiverDerby

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

Photos by Tisha Gale (& Keira Smith) // @TishaGale

Sunday, July 8: 1-0 Win

It feels like it’s been a long time since New York City Football Club has played at home in the Bronx. The atmosphere at the Hudson River Derby felt a bit like a huge family reunion, ripe with banners, glitter, costumes, drinking and dancing and the obligatory distant “cousins” who are loud, overly opinionated and wear strange clothing.  And yet, it would be a super boring event without them.  IMG_0154

If we’re being honest, we need to admit that for much of our club’s history, the New York Red Bulls have handed our heads to us on a silver platter. Granted, they’ve had many more years to develop the knife factory.  They figured out how to defeat NYCFC pretty consistently.

A few things going into the July 8th match:

  • This was less of a sure thing for RBNY as both teams had new (ish) coaches with Doménec Torrent having merely two prior games under his belt and with Chris Armas at the helm for the Red Bulls, promoted to Head Coach upon last weeks’s announced departure of Jesse Marsch.
  • The match was at Yankee stadium which is notoriously hard for visiting teams to handle due to its narrow width.
  • NYCFC had both David Villa and Jo Inge Berget completely out of the lineup with Berget’s absence a last minute unpleasant surprise.
  • RBNY were missing Florian Valot, who will be out for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL

The starting lineup mixed in some faces we haven’t seen in a while such as Rodney Wallace on left wing, returning from World Cup duties for Costa Rica and Maxime Chanot as a center back after a string of mysterious absences.  On paper, it also looked like Maxi Moralez had striker duties for this game.  Despite the return of some veterans to the starting XI, it was clearly not the same old tactics in facing the Red Bulls.

For this game, the dyed-in-the-wool “Play out of the back” strategy was not to be seen and instead, replaced by quick restarts of long balls to the wings by goalkeeper Sean Johnson.  Particularly in the first half, this was effective in countering RBNY’s previously deadly high press as NYC kept 61.3% possession and won 54.8% of duels.

However, of the 10 NYCFC shots on goal in the first half, 5 were blocked solidly by RB’s defense, one was saved by Robles and the others were off target.  City could not squeeze juice from the pretty pineapple.

IMG_5365

In the second half, the Red Bulls held much more possession and seemed to be consistently on the attack.  Chanot settled nicely back into the center back role, a position that he shared with Alexander Callens for this game, clearing aerial balls, destroying low shots with sliding tackles and making life difficult for Red Bulls star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips.

And yet there was a point that fans began to think that we would be okay with a draw and taking the one point.  Then Jonathan Lewis came in for Rodney Wallace and the whole offensive rhythm changed with Lewis dancing and weaving, overall giving the RBNY defense more to contend with.  Nine minutes after he came on, Lewis served a ball across the goal to Moralez who buried it.  At that point, it was all hands on deck to defend and protect the lead.  Besides the combination that lead to the goal, it was not a pretty game but it did the trick.

A win is a win – especially without a “striker”.

Pretty fly for a non-striker
Maxi Moralez entering the stadium before the match vs the NY Red Bulls

Next game is Wednesday, July 11th at home versus the Montreal Impact.

IMG_5371

Images by Tisha Gale and Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

 

Toronto FC fall to NYCFC 2-1 as Ant-man is swatted away

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

Photos by Tisha Gale // @gale_tisha

Sunday, June 24: 2-1 Win

IMG_0050
Starting XI. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

In New York City Football Club‘s first outing with head coach Domènec Torrent, they successfully slew visiting foe and defending MLS Cup champions Toronto Football Club 2-1 with little on-field drama.

However, in the days leading up to this game, the first after beloved head coach Patrick Vieira departed for his new position at OGC Nice, there were many doubts as to whether “Domè” would obtain work visa clearance in time for this game.  Fans speculated as to who would lead the team against Toronto, should Torrent be delayed.  Luckily, approvals came through and he was able to lead a short team training session on Saturday.  It wasn’t a shock however that there weren’t any big changes to the starting eleven from the draw with Atlanta United on June 9th.

Domènec Torrent
New head coach of NYCFC, Domènec Torrent. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

Although NYC had more possession in the first half, they went down a goal when Victor Vasquez scored in the 37th minute.  The Boys in Blue stayed calm and continued to press and came out in the second half with more energy and verve.  Although City’s possession went down, they won more duals and utilized more crosses.

Fans didn’t have to wait long in the second half for the equalizer.  Jo Inge Berget cleverly and unexpectedly took a heel flick shot behind him on a pass from Jesus Medina and it was as if a collective sigh of relief was released in the stadium.  It was even now and anyone’s game.

At the 68th minute, Maxi Moralez weaved his way towards the goal releasing a centering pass which Berget perfectly placed into the back of the net. The stadium went wild.  A brace for Berget!  Did Domè successfully break the curse of Berget? Hope was alive and kicking with NYCFC fans in Yankee Stadium.

Jo Inge Berget
Jo Inge Berget poses for a photo with a young fan after the match. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

However, any  time we play Toronto, I am nervous about “the Silent Killer” (no not carbon monoxide), Sebastian Giovinco.  Giovinco can strike from anywhere at any time and you don’t see him coming.  Fortunately, NYCFC did an excellent job of containing him.

According to defender Ben Sweat, “Obviously Giovinco is one of the top players in the league.  We knew we had to watch the spacing behind and we knew we had to be smart and be tight with him.  With those kinds of players you have to be super aggressive and I thought the midfield did a really good job with that.  Shutting down Giovinco, shutting down Vasquez today.  It was good.”

Midfielder Alex Ring concurred: “Overall I think it was a good performance.  We played well between the zones and I was able to get a bit more offensive.”

The unfortunate side effect of this match was an injury to captain David Villa, who requested a substitution in the first half.  Details on his injury will be released later this week but Coach Torrent stated, “I spoke with him [Villa] and he told me it’s not serious. We are waiting for the doctor. I think it’s not bad, but maybe he needs one or two games.”  Fans are hoping for his quick and thorough recovery and, based on this performance, are optimistic that the team can continue to be successful even without him on the pitch.

David Villa
David Villa is out with an unspecified injury. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

One-Timers

It was the battle of the two smallest #10s in MLS. Giovinco’s nickname is “The Atomic Ant” while Moralez has been called “El Frasquito” and more recently “Spider-man”.

Thanks to an introduction by NYCFC president Jon Patricof, I got to meet one of the rare female referees in the world of soccer, Kathryn Nesbitt.  Nesbitt served as an assistant referee in this match.

All images: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

The End of a Vieira in New York

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

A lot has been going down in the soccer ‘hood in the past week. It seems like every hour news is breaking in both the MLS world and internationally.  It’s been hard to catch your breath before something else happens.  Hot off the press is the big news that the joint bid for the FIFA 2026 World Cup by the US, Canada and Mexico was successful.  

The other news is the departure of head coach Patrick Vieira for OGC Nice and the subsequent announcement of the appointment of his replacement Domenec Torrent.  It’s been rumored for weeks that Vieira would be leaving and despite his denials, the club made its official announcement on Monday.  Not only did Vieira leave his contract mid-season but he took much of his supporting team with him including Christian Lattanzio,  Kristian Wilson and Matt Cook. I was not quite pleased.

New head coach Domènec Torrent brings a plethora of experience working under Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola as well as an endorsement from fellow Spaniard David Villa.  Fans expressed their optimism about Torrent over social media. 

Angela Singh, an active member of The City Celestes supporters group, wrote: “I personally am looking forward to seeing him and his style. He’s got AMAZING credentials (including being the former assistant coach for both FC Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona), and thus won a total of 21 trophies with both teams, the former head coach for Girona FC, and he helped Manchester City as they became the #Centurions and won the Premier League Cup this year!! I’m pleasantly surprised and completely sold – this guy seems like the one who will lead the “Boys in Blue” to the 2018 MLS Cup!”   

Dominic Torrent, Head Coach NYCFC
Domenec Torrent

The first game with Coach Torrent at the helm will be on June 24th when we host Toronto FC. 

Before we completely close the book on the Vieira Era, it’s important to reflect on his last game with New York City.  Hosting Atlanta United on Saturday June 9th had most fans both excited and nervous.  It was Military Appreciation day and featured the US Military Academy parachute team making an aerial entrance onto the pitch.  Atlanta fans were representing all over the stadium along with the anticipated packed and enthusiastic visiting supporters’ section. 

I have to mention our supporters’ section was in especially fine voice.

IMG_1780
NYCFC Supporters’ section filling in pre-game.

New York started with a 3-4-3 lineup which seemed to work extremely well against Atlanta, who have the league’s leading scorer in Josef Martinez.  Although Martinez did score against us, our defense especially Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha contained him well and made his job much more difficult.

Both Miguel Almiron and Ezequiel Barco were basically non-issues.  Sean Johnson only had one save and claimed one cross. I was surprised at how well NYCFC moved the ball aggressively throughout the field and at the same time were able to apply many layers of defense on Atlanta.  I was expecting the team to be shaken by the rumors of their coach’s imminent departure as well as the lack of consistency in the starting lineup but I was wrong. 

Alexander Callens steals the ball from Josef Martinez.

We had chance after chance to score in this game with a vice of pressure applied to Atlanta’s defense however Brad Guzan was equal to the task making one incredible save after the other with 10 in total.  NY’s shot after shot were repeatedly hitting the posts and crossbar. Until the 77th minute when David Villa perfectly crossed the ball to Callens who finished it with a low, swift diving header that Guzan couldn’t touch. 

With all the chances by New York City, the score stayed even at 1-1, the same ending as when we visited Atlanta in April.  Although it’s hard to come away with only one point, it felt like a bigger picture win to see our Boys in Blue play so well against a strong team.

Atlanta United visiting supporters’ section looks on as Miguel Almiron goes down at Alex Ring’s feet.

Our difficult home stretch has seen us get 4 out of 6 points against two Eastern Conference playoff rivals.  All eyes will be on our new gaffer as we face our nemesis Toronto FC.  I’m optimistic.

All images: nycfc.com

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

NYCFC humbles Orlando FC 3-0

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, June 2: 3-0 Win

The atmosphere for Pride Day at Yankee Stadium was joyful and optimistic.  Rainbow flags and scarves freckled the crowd and a rainbow of 49 colored seat overlays was laid out for the visiting Orlando fans by our own City in the Community youth. Accompanied by a first and second timer to a professional soccer game, I was excited to be back in the Bronx when it wasn’t pouring rain nor arctic cold.

In a surprising move, New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira did not start David Villa, opting for an initial lineup which included Anton Tinnerholm, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Jo-Inge Berget and Jesus Medina as attacking midfielders/forwards.  Was Villa not started in order to rest him for upcoming big games such as the US Open Cup versus the New York Red Bulls and next Saturday’s match versus Atlanta FC?

While NYCFC dictated much of the the pace of play, Orlando City FC‘s physically intense defending made it difficult to maintain extended possession.  Tinnerholm’s offensive minded style of play made for an easy transition to this role, as he worked well with Tajouri-Shradi and Medina.

Tajouri-Shradi continues to be our most reliable offensive player, with each touch seemingly calculated and deadly.  (He’s scored 7 goals from 8 shots on target this season!) Scoring two beauties in this game with the second goal a banana-style cross which hooked past Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

I was equally amazed on that ball, how all NYCFC players moved out of the path of that shot, somehow knowing its trajectory was the net.  Sebastien Ibeagha alone deserves an assist at worst and a Tony Award at best for his decisive deception and screening of Bendik.

NYCFC celebrates Isi's second goal.
Tajouri-Shradi is hugged by teammates Moralez and Tinnerholm after his second goal. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

Speaking of reliable, no one has been more steady, if not spectacular than goalkeeper Sean Johnson.  This was Johnson’s 5th shutout of the season which he pulled out two point blank saves, his 49th and 50th of the season.

The biggest boss move of the game was when Orlando FC’s Sacha Kljestan was awarded a penalty kick and Johnson stood with his arms and legs reaching as wide as possible on the goal line.  Kljestan subsequently kicked the shot wide.  That PK would have tied the game and who knows how it may have changed the final outcome.

Sean Johnson post Orlando
Johnson celebrates his 5th shutout this season over Orlando FC. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

Unfortunately, a great majority of fans have completely lost all remaining patience for Berget.  His lack of finishing ability leaves most to scratch their heads, guessing Vieira’s rationale for continuing to start him.  Yes, he opens up space, he physically takes defenders on which does lend breathing room to teammates, but a striker’s job is to score.  No more excuses.  Berget got a chance to play his “real” position of striker and wasn’t able to produce.  Please sit him.

On the flip side, was the seemingly eternally benched wunderkind Jonathan Lewis who came into the game for Tajouri-Shradi in the 80th minute.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw his name on the screen and was excitedly shouting to my section “It’s Jonathan Lewis!  He’s actually coming in!” Most people smiled back politely as if to say “Okay, strange overenthusiastic person” but they don’t realize how much many of us have been clamoring for him to play this season.

In the 13 minutes he played, Lewis did not disappoint with his speed and ability to maneuver around physical defenders eventually initiating the play that lead to Maxi Moralez‘s goal in the 87th minute.  Hopefully, this is the start of the Lewis era in the Bronx.

Jonathan Lewis
Lewis on the attack. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

With the busy and challenging schedule ahead, we will need contributions from everyone.  See you after the US Open match against “The Team that Shall Not Be Named”.

All images by Tisha Gale for MLSFemale.

Featured image: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

 

 

NYCFC loses to Houston Dynamo 1-3: Musings on Marriage and Fandom

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Friday, May 25: 3-1 Loss

Friday, New York City Football Club faced off against Houston Dynamo and left most fans shaking their heads as to what the heck they just saw.  The game started with a wonky lineup and then built up pieces of a proverbial train wreck with bad defensive touches, lack of offensive runs and a horrific looking injury to midfielder Yangel Herrera.

By all accounts it did not seem to be a good night to be an NYCFC fan.  Yet, gathering to watch the match at Ryan’s Daughter in Manhattan at a fan party hosted by NYCFC Nation, celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary to my husband, I got all sorts of feels.  A true fan relationship with the team really is like a solid marriage:  you get some tremendous swooning moments, a few instances of pure soul-spitting anger and a lot of mutual hard work, humor, comfort and picking your battles.

Despite David Villa‘s quick goal to give New York the lead in the first few minutes, it was ugly football with a lack of passion and creativity.  For much of the game, City was dominated by the Dynamo.  Houston capitalized on our slow legs and poor overall defending.  As one NYC fan stated, “We look gassed”.  However, despite disappointment in the result this week, fans bonded in mutual love and dedication to their team.  For true fans, it would take something monumental for us to lose so much faith in our team to jump ship and start over.

At our wedding twenty years ago, my husband and I were given advice in the shape of the 80/20 rule:  As long as you are happy and working together as a team 80% of the time, you are in excellent shape to weather the storms that may occur 20% of the time.

Now, do I translate that to an 80% ball possession and an 80% winning record in MLS?  Of course not, but if the fan’s relationship with the team is mostly positive with a few bumps thrown in, then it’s a worthwhile long term endeavor.  Expecting perfection is unattainable for anybody or any sports team.  However, I dare you to explain that to a New Yorker.

Extra time thoughts:

The diagnosis of Herrera’s injury and prognosis has not been disclosed but he posted a photo of himself in a boot, giving fans hope that the injury was not as serious as it appeared.

New York City Football Club is now without Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace who will be representing Costa Rica in the World Cup.  We will have less depth particularly on the left side.

Safety note! Jumping up and down rhythmically in large groups at Ryan’s Daughter may cause the floor to collapse and is therefore discouraged.

Onward and upwards.

Featured image: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

New York City FC Rolls over the Rapids 4-0

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Photos by Tisha Gale // @gale_tisha

Saturday, May 19: 4-0 Win

This day was officially proclaimed “David Villa Day” in New York City to celebrate the captain’s 400th career and country goal and his contributions to New York City sports.  Despite the decidedly un-Spanish weather with epic downpours and frigid temperatures,  New York City Football Club hosted a goal-scoring party against the Colorado Rapids in his honor.

IMG_0161
David Villa, flanked by Jon Patricof and Francisco Moya. Image: Tisha Gale

It was a festive celebration from the opening of the gates with the first 10,000 fans arriving receiving replica captain armbands and the first 400 founding members receiving commemorative “400” pins.  Fans huddled together under umbrellas and under overhangs to watch Villa receive his official mayoral proclamation as well as gifts and accolades presented by NYCFC President Jon Patricof, City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano, Andy Drelick of the Third Rail supporters’ group and New York City Councilperson for the 21st district, Francisco Moya.  Even Belgian Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany attended the match.

At kickoff, spirits were high and the supporters’ section, specifically Los Templados and their epic drumming, was louder than ever.  NYCFC dominated the match, despite statistics showing a 65% possession rate.   The pouring rain gave both sides a lot of unexpected touches, bounces and sliding to contend with particularly with players’ bodies launched into the air multiple times.

IMG_0516
NYCFC’s Sebastien Ibeagha and Yangel Herrera launch vertically. Image: Tisha Gale

In typical Villa form, he scored twice to mark his 403rd and 404th goals and was joined in scoring by Maxi Moralez, who also had two assists and first time 2018 scorer, Ronald Matarrita.  Movement, despite the choppy ball bounces and lack of pace on the pitch due to the rain, was fluid and purposeful.  At times, it appeared as if the Rapids gave up on pressuring NYCFC for the ball.  That, and a snappy new tweaked formation allowed City to run away with the game.

IMG_0236
David Villa and Jo-Inge Berget attack through the downpour. Image: Tisha Gale

Final thoughts:

Jesús Medina did not start, following a few games with less than stellar performances but when he was subbed in for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, at 62′ he brought good movement, awareness of space and was heavily involved in some good scoring opportunities with Villa and Moralez. Fans are hoping that he is returning to the form he displayed earlier in the season.

The change to a 3-5-2 allowed both Matarrita and Tajouri-Shradi to attack down both wings and opened up space in the middle for Moralez to float and make trouble and to collaborate smoothly with Villa and Jo-Inge Berget up top.

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson had two tight saves in the dwindling minutes of the game to keep NYCFC’s sheet clean.

How did Matarrita manage not to freeze in his short-sleeved jersey? He was the only City player not in long sleeves.  Do his tattoo sleeves keep him warm?

IMG_0087
You know who didn’t care about the rain?  These player escorts, that’s who! Image: Tisha Gale

Featured image: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

Can’t Stop- NYCFC battles LAFC to a 2-2 draw

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Sunday, May 13: 2-2 Draw

Mia’s Magical Falcon versus the Pigeon

No, I promise this won’t be a drool fest about everything Los Angeles Football Club does right.  Humor me for a minute and I’ll quickly move on.  As a New York City Football Club fan, I’m a bit green with envy.

Banc of California Stadium is beautiful – located in actual downtown Los Angeles, a mere walking distance from the USC campus.  The supporters’ section holds over 3200 supporters.  They have a live falcon.  (Hey, I’m into birds of prey.  Don’t judge.)

The soccer-specific stadium has real grass.  The uniforms are timelessly stylish worn by talented, young international players and they are part-owned by sports phenoms Mia Hamm, Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, and well-known actor Will Ferrell.  I was nervous that the new cool kids in town were going to defeat us.

I hope that some newbies to soccer and detractors of the sport caught some of this match as it was a nail biter with possession ping-ponging from end to end and it was also a fun watch.  From David Villa‘s 402nd goal which was an easy-peasy header rebound off a penalty shot to take the lead 1-0 to Ismael Tajouri- Shradi‘s game tying rebound rocket minutes after being subbed in, the vibe was positively SoCal.  The sun was blinding and the chanting was relentless and intense.

Major props go out to the almost perfect play of LAFC’s Laurent Ciman and Latif Blessing who dished out trouble for NYCFC from the first whistle.  New York City clearly evolved in their strategy of maintaining possession in tight spaces and constantly trying to thread the proverbial needle to maintaining possession but mixing in deep long low balls and high crosses to penetrate LA’s defense.  This game could have gone either way with plenty of missed finishers, great saves, and clearances by both teams.

The good:

  • Tajouri-Shradi is back and scored his fifth goal in as many games.
  • Villa is back in major hustle mode, applying pressure in every corner of the field and was potent in the counter attacks.
  • Goalkeeper Sean Johnson made some ridiculously incredible saves.

The bad:

  • One of the goals LA was credited for was an own goal off a deflection by defender Sebastien Ibeagha.  Ouch.
  • We still have no stadium of our own.

Questions:

  • Will we move forward utilizing this new strategy mixing in long balls or will we go back to our short pass possession method?
  • Is Anton Tinnerholm injured?
  • Why are we not more dangerous off set pieces?

“Can’t stop, addicted to the shindig.  Chop Top, he says I’m gonna win big.”  – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Featured image: nycfc.com

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

“Night Spoiled” New York City FC destroyed by New York Red Bulls

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, May 5: 4-0 Loss

“I don’t have much to say, I’ll be out front
Won’t you come spoil my night?
Feelings come into play and I’m thinkin’
this happens every time.
Spoil my night, spoil my night…”

Before Saturday’s thrashing of NYCFC at Red Bull Arena, and before said night was spoiled, I spent quite a bit of time pondering soccer fandom in the US in general and more specifically the development of franchise rivalries in MLS.  We were, of course, playing our alleged rival in what MLS dubbed the #NYDerby.  There was so much talk in the days leading up to the game about how both NYC fans and NY Red Bulls fans were actually renaming it the “Hudson River Derby” and were resistant to the assumed insistence by the league in naming it a New York rivalry.

As seasoned football fans are quick to point out, a “derby” game doesn’t necessarily indicate a match that underscores the fiercest rivalry.  If you look at Real Madrid, they may play a derby versus Atlético Madrid and fans of both clubs across the city will come out in large numbers, but their true rival in La Liga on any given day would be FC Barcelona.  And in the English Premier League, if you ask any Manchester United fan who their “biggest rival” is, they will answer Liverpool and not Manchester City.  

When soccer fans speak in general about the makings of a rivalry, the common thread is that it’s more than just a geographic commonality.  Fans commented that true rivalries take time and history to develop and that ultimately it’s passion that fuels all.

However, in a league as young and eager to grow as MLS, mere hints of a rivalry by means of geography, team age, and a few contentious games can be accelerated into a full-blown “Rivalry”.  These matches are easy to advertise and market and they sell more tickets.  Both derby games and matches against a league rival grip fans as they give them a rare chance to loudly proclaim which clan they identify with. 

“The beautiful game is for the fans and they are the ones responsible for defining what is meaningful and important and what or who isn’t”. – NYCFC fan Angel Meza

In the case of the New York City and the Red Bulls, some say that it’s not a true historical rivalry and not even a true derby game as the Red Bulls’ home is in Patterson, NJ.  However, there is clearly true animosity and, for many NYCFC fans, it stems from the belief that a New York team needs to actually play in New York State. 

It seems that the perceived highjacking of the “NY” in RBNY was the big rub.  Not that the actual team or its fans had any say in that decision.  No matter, as one City fan succinctly stated, “The one thing that makes a rivalry a rivalry is both sides agreeing it is one.”  And that may be the only thing that most NYCFC and Red Bulls fans can agree on.

Special thanks to the following fans for sharing their thoughts about soccer fandom:  Andrés Emilio Soto, Stephanie Plaut, Osman Sosa, Rollie Joe Carney, Anthony Scarcello and Angel Meza.  And thanks to Post Malone for those lyrics.

Featured image of HC Patrick Vieira: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x