Tag Archives: Domenec Torrent

NYCFC looks ahead to face Atlanta United in MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

It’s deja-vu all over again as New York City Football Club tops Philadelphia Union 3-1 for the second time in a week, this time in the MLS Playoff Knockout Round.

From the beginning, NYCFC dominated the Union, sticking to their high possession strategy which was lighter and more precise with the return of midfielder Yangel Herrera. Herrera’s ability to anticipate opponents’ next moves and superb skills in transitioning between defense and offense allowed David Villa, Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi to work smoothly together.

All three goals were scored on attacks down the middle with three different types of finishing touches by Tajouri-Shradi, Villa and Moralez. Additionally, a late substitution of Valentin (Taty) Castellanos for Villa was strategically very important in maintaining the win as Castellanos drew two, sometimes three defenders which freed up Moralez to maneuver and keep NYC in possession of the ball.

This was a huge win and a morale lifter for NYCFC and its fans as we look ahead to face Atlanta United in the MLS Eastern Conference semi-finals.  New York City has been gaining momentum and confidence after a dismal two months and Atlanta is showing some cracks in its previously impenetrable foundation. Atlanta is now in a situation familiar to NYCFC with its coach Tata Martino rumored to be leaving the club for “greener” pastures, as well as, player personal conduct and team chemistry distractions.

In the past two years, the two teams have been evenly matched with each team credited one win, one loss and two draws. New York City is back to full strength with a clean bill of health and will face an Atlanta squad who will be close to full strength, especially if midfielder Miguel Almirón returns to match play.  (Almirón returned to training this week.)

I predict Atlanta will utilize a 4-4-2 formation with Brad Guzan, a returning from injury Greg Garza, Leandro González-Pirez, Michael Parkhurst and Franco Escobar as defenders, center defending midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, center attacking midfielder  Almirón, Ezequiel Barco and Darlington Nagbe on the wings and both Hector Villalba and Josef Martinez up top.

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Ismael Tajouri-Shradi celebrates his goal. Image: Tisha Gale

For New York City, I see coach Dome Torrent sticking with a similar lineup and formation as the last two matches with the exception of perhaps starting Jesús Medina at left midfield over Ronald Matarrita as Medina’s style of play may be a better matchup against Atlanta’s tactics.  The past two matchups utilized a 4-2-3-1 with Sean Johnson, Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm, Herrera, Alex Ring, Medina, Moralez, Tajouri-Shradi and Villa.

Make no mistake about it, this will be an extremely tough match for City, especially after Atlanta’s recent embarrassing loss to Toronto FC which cost them the Supporter’s Shield.  They will be out to prove to everyone that the recent loss was a fluke.  However, I have no doubt that our Boys in Blue are in fine form and are capable of taking a big decisive win and sowing more seeds of doubt for Atlanta.

Images by Tisha Gale

Featured image: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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