Category Archives: New York City FC

New York City FC

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

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“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

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Can I kick it?  Yes David Villa, yes you can.

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Sunday, April 29: 3-1 Win

It was a cold but happy Sunday night at Yankee Stadium where New York City Football Club returned to their home pitch ready to make up for the ugly loss to Portland Timbers one week ago.  Fan expectations were high that our Boys in Blue could return to their seamless form demonstrated in their previous five wins mixed with a thin layer of anxiety.  Could we defeat FC Dallas, apparent masters of defense and the only unbeaten MLS team this season? 

The answer was a resounding yes with whipped cream and two cherries on top.  Two minutes in Jesus Medina scored on a David Villa and Jo Inge Berget sequence which started, of course, down the left side.  Despite a Dallas equalizer in the 9th minute, NYC maintained about 80% of the first half possession. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Jo Inge Berget image: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha

When a Dallas handball in their box triggered a very delayed use of VAR to ultimately award a penalty kick to NYCFC, everyone in the stadium knew what that meant and was on their feet.  David Villa was kicking for his 400th career goal and executed it perfectly, of course.  Then, to silence any doubters of his return to top form, he scored a second goal, his 401st career goal in typical gorgeous, easy-does-it style.   Game-set-match New York City FC.

While New York maintained 75% of the game possession, FC Dallas did threaten with the same number of shots on target as NY.  Interestingly, NYC had no offside calls against them while Dallas was called on it four times. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Sebastien Ibeagha image: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha

I got a chance to speak with NYCFC center back Sebastien Ibeagha post-game about who on FC Dallas was giving him trouble and how they effectively contained them. “The whole front three were giving us a hard time and I think it just was what we worked on during the week and we were just really disciplined and confident in our tactics and our game plan – that was kind of what was shown on the field.”

On Ibeagha’s start in place of veteran center back Maxime Chanot and on the match result:  “Every week Patrick says anyone can start so I mean it wasn’t a big change or anything tactically…It was a big win for us [tonight] and obviously, it’s more confidence going into next week.”

Yeah, our tribe is back and ready to face that other one from across our very own rio grande.

Featured image of David Villa courtesy: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha

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“Alexander (Ring & Callens) and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Sunday, April 22: 3-0 Loss

We knew that the unbeaten streak couldn’t last forever.  I mean I used to believe in unicorns, so maybe I did think there was a chance that New York City Football Club could be undefeated this year if they kept up the level of play.  Then the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day happened.  Sunday we faced the Portland Timbers at Portland and boy, was it a hot mess.

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale

The pace of the game was in stark contrast to the Atlanta United match last week with it being much slower and with NYCFC’s touches seeming to lack urgency.  Although we maintained a great deal of the possession, Portland capitalized quickly and deftly on our mistakes and on counter attacks. 

The spiral started with a terrible miscommunication between goalkeeper Sean Johnson and defender Alexander Callens on a shot that was savable had Johnson claimed it.   We seemed to possess, possess, possess in the middle third then lose momentum and the Timbers would patiently wait for a missed touch or missed target then jump in.  Over and over Portland would dish the ball to wide open Sebastian Blanco on the left of the goal where he scored once and nearly scored a few other times. 

Defenders seemed stunned by changes in possession and couldn’t get back in time to help in meaningful ways, except for Alexander Ring who cleared away a few goal scoring opportunities.  Every counter-attack was deadly and Portland earned every goal they scored or nearly scored.  We could not build our attacks to anything truly threatening. 

David Villa was almost invisible and Jesus Medina was sorely missed on the right side, on the bench for most of the game.  Upon conclusion of the first half, head coach Patrick Vieira was visibly unhappy and said that NYCFC’s play lacked “aggressivity” and that the team needed “quicker ball movement”. 

It would be completely unfair to not point out how well the Timbers played.  The formation 4-4-1-1 on paper looked a bit wonky but it was a brilliant tactic of Portland coach Gio Savarese to congest the field and cut down on New York’s effective ball movement and momentum building.  Without urgency and quick movement, we couldn’t play our game.  Portland effectively shut down our weapons across the board then waited patiently for opportune moments to strike decisively.   

All the best athletes and teams have moments of failure and soul-searching.  Coach Vieira talks about the importance of the team’s humility especially in how they look at opponents.  Judith Viorst’s “Alexander…” book is all about cause and effect.  May the effect of this loss be a positive continuation of the evolution of New York City Football Club. 

Also, may they never wear those Adidas Parley jerseys again.  They look sharp but man, are they cursed! 

Featured image #adidasParley courtesy: @NYCFC

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Rise up, NYCFC

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

FT: 2-2 Draw

Sunday, April 15th was the night New York City Football Club rose up and faced its Eastern conference rival, Atlanta United Football Club.  The two teams entered the game in first and second place in their conference and both are managed by highly decorated international legends, Patrick Vieira and Gerardo Daniel “Tata” Martino, respectively.  Two formidable foes facing off in the loud, spirited, raucous castle of American Soccer: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Apr 15, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; The video board displays “Goal” after the goal by Atlanta United defender Greg Garza during the first half against the New York City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The stadium energy was palpable even by viewers watching the game on TV.  I personally couldn’t believe how loud it was.  I am late to this party but really Atlanta, you put artificial turf in your kingdom?  Come on!  Your climate is the envy of New Yorkers most of the year so I would think natural grass would work with a little extra effort.

The playing surface was the theme of the first half:  NYCFC getting used to the fake turf.  We had a tough time keeping possession and reacting promptly to Atlanta’s movement as the timing on the surface was different, to say the least.  Atlanta took charge early but NYCFC fought back hard.  Atlanta’s strategy seemed to be playing wide in the middle third and then looking to serve a long ball to temperamental silver-haired wunderkind Josef Martinez.

The artificial turf is quicker and harder on the body and experience playing on it creates a definite advantage for Atlanta, just as playing on the narrow pitch of Yankee Stadium gives us a home-field advantage.  [Side note:  Is there an artificial turf field at the new NYCFC training grounds or were they just winging it?]  However, as expected, our Boys in Blue stepped up and adapted. 

Twice we were down a goal to Atlanta and twice we rose up and evened the duel with our new rival.  Captain David Villa came in much earlier than anticipated at the 35th minute, when Ismael Tajouri-Shradi went out with a pulled hamstring, and quickly evened out our 0-1 deficit via a penalty kick.  His career 399th goal.  Just let that sink in. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Apr 15, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York City forward David Villa (7) and Atlanta United midfielder Kevin Kratz (32) fight for possession of the ball during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Apr 15, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco (8) collides with New York City forward David Villa (7) during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Even with Darlington Nagbe’s stunner late in the first half (correctly) reversed by VAR, Atlanta still pulled ahead again in the second half 2-1 with a goal by Chris McCann. City kept their cool and built possession and momentum.  In the 73rd minute, Villa held off three Atlanta defenders and eventually found Alexander Ring, who did not throw away his shot and sent a rocket to the top left corner of the goal.  The King and the Ring were back and taking names. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Apr 15, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York City midfielder Alexander Ring (8) controls the ball during the first half against the Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

With the game level, it could have gone either way and each remaining moment was a battle.  Walking away from the foreign turf with a point felt a lot like a win.  Like walking away from a duel with both parties still alive.  Win-win.

Other big winners were the NYCFC supporters who traveled to the South. According to Third Rail Supporters Club member Riggs Ac, it was a “thunderous game” with “southern hospitality”.  Liza John, another Third Railer said there was “…so much energy in the stadium and NYCFC fans made their presence known, from the march to the stadium through to the march out.  It was really great to experience the match with so many other soccer fans.”  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Apr 15, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United fans participate in the Atlanta United clap during the second half against New York City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

NYCFC vs Atlanta – Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports. Images copyright Jason Getz. Used with permission.

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Lord of the Ring:  Return of the King to NYCFC aka The Curse is Reversed

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Wednesday, April 11: 4-0 Win

Going into Wednesday’s match, fans of New York City Football Club were cautiously optimistic.  Sure, we were yet to defeat Real Salt Lake.  Nope, they were never that strong.  Were they trap games in the past?  Maybe.  This time, was different and we were going to break the curse, even if our anchors David Villa and Alexander Ring still were not starting.  (Hey, they were listed as subs and that meant they were fit to play. Success!) 

The stadium in the first half was sparsely filled as it was a work and school night.  Even the supporters section looked a bit thin.  However, our Boys in Blue took possession quickly and held it, patiently building the offense through successive overlapping runs, through balls, razor-sharp crosses orchestrated by midfielders Maxi Moralez and Yangel Herrera.

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Medina, Moralez

While our offense rolled over RSL, the crowd built.  As the New York City balls found the back of Salt Lake’s net, snazzily dressed fans settled into their seats.  The supporters section became its frenetic, chanting, drumming self. By the end of the first half, City was up 3-0. 

New attacker and top 2018 scorer, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, was the first one to put one in the back of the onion bag, which was followed by a successful penalty kick by Maxi Moralez, who was tripped in the box.  And finally, Jo Inge Berget finished one off on a beautiful play initiated by Ronald Matarrita

Second half was more of the same dominance by New York but the crowd began roaring when Villa approached the sideline.  Our captain was coming into the game.  After three missed games, he was back.  Sure, his shots were a bit off their past perfection, but he was back to his usual sprinting for every through ball and intensely pressuring the keeper. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Villa

Also returning,  jumping in as a sub in the second half, was Ring and all was well in the world again.   The 4th NYCFC goal was scored on one of the most beautiful plays I’ve seen all season which started again by Matarrita on the left, involving creative touches and moves by Jesus Medina and Moralez who ultimately found Ebenezer Ofori in front of the goal to finish it off. 

Reunited and it feels so good

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Matarrita

Not only are Villa and Ring back and in fighting form to face our nemesis Atlanta United on Sunday, but big props to Matarrita.  Not only did he play well and initiate many of our goal scoring situations but he was positively glowing.  You could tell that he was enjoying every minute of the 90 that he played.  It was infectious, like the growing buzz around NYCFC. 

Images courtesy: Keira Smith/mlsfemale

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Meanwhile, up in northern California… NYCFC defeats San Jose 2-1

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, March 31st.  It was a day ripe with drama in Major League Soccer.  The state was California.  Two matches, hours apart at opposite ends of the state.  As if the day’s events were scripted. 

In the south, where celebrities and paparazzi are the blood that runs through its veins, one of the biggest personalities in soccer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his star-spangled, man-bunned debut for the LA Galaxy with the biggest bang possible.  You’ve seen the footage no doubt since Ibrahimovic’s debut basically broke Twitter for a few hours.  It definitely featured the largest lion tattoo in MLS history.

In the north country of San Jose, all signs were pointing towards a strong New York City Football Club lineup versus the San Jose Earthquakes until, dun, dun, dun, literally minutes before the game when captain David Villa was pulled from the lineup for a mysterious injury which occurred in the pre-game warm up.

This news was the cherry on top of the previous reports of defender Ben Sweat being too ill to play, Rodney Wallace being allowed extra rest from international duty, as well as continued absences of Alexander Ring and Ronald Matarrita due to injuries.  Will we ever have a full lineup? And why must we always learn about Villa’s absence in this manner? 

The lineup had some last minute changes and it did not start well for NYCFC with San Jose scoring off a corner kick in the 3rd minute.  Down 0-1 for the entire first half, NYCFC stayed patient and their chippy and hot first touches eventually calmed down.  By the 28th minute, they gained momentum by patiently keeping possession and carving out space for through passes and looking for the long crosses.  Opportunities were finding substitute striker Jo Inge Berget but he could not find the goal. 

Second half, Berget was moved left to make way for Jesus Medina to focus on the middle and for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi to move to the right flank.   At about 48:30, Maxi Moralez’s corner kick found Anton Tinnerholm who volleyed in a rocket to even out the score 1-1. 

Much is made of this beautiful shot but more credit should be given to Yangel Herrera, Ebenezer Ofori and Abdul-Salaam for keeping the defenders physically attached to them (and in Herrera’s case, being thrown to the ground), which allowed Tinnerholm to be open. And major kudos to Moralez’s brilliant vision of the situation and to his ability to give Tinnerholm a perfect ball.

The second NYCFC goal was orchestrated by Tajouri-Shradi who weaved through defenders on the right side, ultimately finding Moralez in the center to give NYCFC the 2-1 lead. 

San Jose pulled everyone up on attack whenever possible. The rest of the game belonged to goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who denied every scoring opportunity San Jose could muster. Tempers flared in the last quarter of the game about possession at the restart after a series of ugly collisions and injuries. 

After 7 plus minutes of stoppage time (aka FOREVER), when the referee finally blew the whistle, there were audible sighs of relief that the battle was over.  It was tough, gritty and physical but the beautiful moments were memorable. 

Players making 2018 debuts:

Cedric Hountondji

Gold medal for gymnastic prowess to Ebenezer Ofori for his painful looking front split.  (And for all that, he got a yellow card?)

Images courtesy: @NYCFC

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#WeAreNYCFC. I’ve got all my sisters with me.

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club’s 2018 season is off to a cracking start with three wins and one draw, all while missing important starting players over multiple games.  One thing never lacking from any matches is the fan energy. Last Saturday, two busloads and many cars full of fans traveled up to Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts to watch their beloved team take on the New England Revolution.

Tisha Gale MacCollum is one such supporter whose love for soccer is evident in almost everything she does.  She has spent her entire life watching and playing soccer, including a short stint playing for the St Vincent’s and Grenadines Women’s U19 team.  For the past three years, she has been a passionate NYC Football Club fan.  But that statement seems to minimize her love for the club. 

“After I found out about NYCFC, it was like a fire was ignited in me again.  I knew I wanted to become a season ticket holder after watching my very first game at Yankee Stadium. I felt like I’d found my way home.”  Tisha is so passionate about the club that she insisted on streaming the away game NYCFC was playing versus LA Galaxy at her wedding reception. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Tisha

Tisha is one of the thousands of women around the world who are redefining women supporters’ roles at live sporting events. With many women having grown up playing and watching soccer, it goes without saying that women are out in full force supporting their favorite MLS team.  So when NYCFC announced its secondary kit in a short video that did not feature a single female supporter, it struck a nerve. 

“We chant our hearts out; we feel the pain of losing. So the lack of proper representation led to feelings of disappointment.”

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale

Tisha was not alone in her disappointment. Other women supporters noticed the omission and discussed it over social media.  The predominant feelings expressed were frustration and disappointment.  (Note: To be factually correct, there were women in the video but they were seamstresses and flight attendants, not fans.)

So Tisha had an idea to visually put a spotlight on the female supporters of NYCFC through a photographic video project.  She fleshed it out through discussions with other women supporters and #WeAreNYCFC was born.  Using her brand new camera that her NYCFC fan friend and “inspiration” Yessica taught her how to use, Tisha reached out to every possible interested female fan to invite them to a photo shoot. 

February New York weather pushed the first day of photography inside to Grand Central Terminal.  “What I did not anticipate was the difficult lighting inside the terminal.  However, the women were all so understanding and thankful that I was taking the time to bring our community of female supporters together. It was a great networking event and seeing how excited everyone was by this project was my greatest reward.”

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale

Another positive outcome was dialogue with the NYCFC front office, who quickly noticed the project and reached out.  After the project was released, members of the front office contacted Tisha to thank her for her efforts in highlighting an issue that was unfortunately overlooked by the video editors. 

“It is a great feeling knowing that the organization that we invest so much of our time and energy in supporting, is aware enough to take the time to listen and respond to our concerns. Being an NYCFC supporter has opened me up to the world I did not know existed.  I’ve met so many great friends and our sense of community continues to grow. We encourage one another in and outside of Yankee Stadium.”

Her only regret?  Not knowing about NYCFC early enough in the first season to become a founding member. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale

Images courtesy: Tisha Gale MacCollum

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NYCFC utilize a little Irish luck

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, March 17: 2-0 Win

As you know, St Patrick’s Day is the day when New Yorkers dress up in green attire and accessories and look idiotic.  On purpose.  Sometimes it goes along with some other questionable choices in celebration methods.  St Patrick’s Day celebrations were in full effect at Yankee Stadium and fans had full faith in their own St Patrick, head coach Patrick Vieira.

Up until an hour before the game, New York City FC fans were feeling very confident about this home match versus Orlando City FC.  Everyone was healthy, Orlando City has been struggling and was down five starting players.  And then they got the tweet:

The game became a real match up.  No David Villa and no Jo Inge Berget, who is supposed to be Villa’s backup?  No man of the last match Anton Tinnerholm? Apparently, NYCFC was going to be testing this much-previously-discussed depth of the squad.

Turns out there’s depth.  Jumping in the front as striker for Villa, who was out with a minor injury, was Ismael Tajouri-Shradi with his first start.  At right back for the also injured Tinnerholm was another first-time starter, Saad Abdul-Salaam.  Both players performed very well in the match as NYCFC maintained about 60% of the possession with fluid, smooth ball movement and quick, decisive destruction of Orlando’s offense. 

The major fan frustration was the small number of shots taken by NYCFC on Orlando City’s goal, particularly in the first half.  Without Villa, (the usual proverbial beacon in the night calling for the ball), there seemed to be a sense of caution on offense, which did lessen in the second half. 

The second half is when most of the action happened.  At 61:37, Tajouri scored his first NYCFC goal which was quickly followed by a goal by Maxi Moralez at 73:04. Down 0-2, Orlando kicked it up a notch and did give goalkeeper Sean Johnson some trouble. He made three saves, while a handful of Orlando’s shots were off target. According to Vieira, he was very happy with the way the team played in this game.

Maybe there was a little luck of the Irish happening? On that note, the biggest fan response to a sub coming on was our local Irish-American hero Tommy McNamara.

H-U-S-T-L-E-R of the match: Alex Ring for not only destroying possible attacks but instantaneously jump-starting the offense in a calm, methodical manner.

Oh crap, moment of the match:  Ronald Matarrita getting injured again after playing only a few minutes.

Slainté!

Featured image courtesy: Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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NYCFC FTW

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Win

New York City FC immediately took control of this game, calmly keeping possession and easily moving the ball around and through the LA Galaxy.  This was the pace of the first two-thirds of the game.  The movement down the left wing was swift and opened up space for David Villa in the center and for the cross to the right side.  Jesus Medina and Rodney Wallace again utilized switching flanks quite a bit which successfully shook up LA’s ability to mark well. 

With the fluid ball movement, the elephant on the field was that our offense was continuously distributing balls to Villa in goal-scoring chances in lieu of taking the shot themselves.  As this was Villa’s 100th cap for NYCFC, teammates Medina and Maxi Moralez gave him many of their own legitimate chances to score but most of these deferred attempts fell flat. 

The first goal of the match was scored by NYCFC when a shot by Villa was poorly cleared by LA and Anton Tinnerholm quickly capitalized on it with a strong left volley at 21:50.  And finally, at 32:37 Villa’s one-game goal-scoring drought ended.  Medina received a cross from Ben Sweat whose shot was blocked by LA goalkeeper David Bingham, which set up Villa to finish off the rebound. 

Anton Tinnerholm, NYCFC - Keira Smith/mlsfemale
Post game. Anton Tinnerholm, NYCFC – Keira Smith/mlsfemale

Already, there seems to be strong chemistry between Sweat and Medina who have successfully set each other up in front of the goal in both games. The NYCFC momentum continued, yet as Villa stated in the post game, “…We couldn’t close the game. In the first half probably we had a chance to close the game. With three nil. Much easier and [with] no pain in the last minute.”

And so the tone of the game changed with an LA Galaxy goal at 60’ by Jonathan Dos Santos.  NYCFC began to rush and scramble a bit more and LA was able to put together some offensive attacks. New York was very successful in forcing turnovers in the middle third of the field by swarming each LA player with two to three defenders. 

Attacks on the Galaxy continued but when Medina was subbed out, there were numerous opportunities when nobody was on the right post.  In the last 20 minutes of the game, Emmanuel Boateng became really dangerous every time LA took possession. Even playing with ten men, (Ashley Cole was ejected for 2 yellow cards), LA managed to heavily pressure NYCFC. 

It looked like New York ran out of gas in the last 15 minutes, so when the final whistle blew it was with a huge sigh of relief from many fans. 

Greatest hits

Sean Johnson is credited with only two saves and one claimed cross but with one possibly saved by his face. They were legit threats and decisive saves.

No VAR used!

Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha’s squatting ball-clearing headers.

H-U-S-T-L-E-R of the match – Rodney Wallace providing that necessary 2nd or 3rd person pressure on LA.

Tinnerholm’s goal celebration = pure joy.

Extra Time

Who did David Villa say in the post-match interview is a “really amazing guy”?

Featured image courtesy: Keira Smith

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