By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith
New York City Football Club continued to show its developing form in its unexpected win over LA Galaxy. With a return of anchor defender James Sands from injury, the team looked calm and settled. One slight change to the lineup was the swapping out of the injured Ebenezer Ofori, out with a core injury, for Tony Rocha in a center midfield role. NYCFC faced a Galaxy who were without Jonathan Dos Santos, Rolf Feltscher, Romain Alessandrini and showed some struggle to gather attacking chances particularly without Dos Santos.
The Boys in Blue excelled in their passing accuracy in the attacking half and the final third and this kept them steady and in control of much of the game. New York City did an excellent job of defending but the clear and obvious strategy by LA of always trying to serve the ball up to Zlatan Ibrahimovich made the Galaxy seem predictable and easier to defend. Where LA did a good job of accurately crossing the ball, the NYC defenders knew how to position themselves in order to quickly destroy the play. Alex Callens was particularly efficient at slowing down or destroying LA’s attempts to propel their attack.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) May 11, 2019
New York’s first goal was scored by Héber on a rebound of an Anton Tinnerholm shot. Héber has clearly settled into his #9 role, making a go of any loose balls in the box. He has scored 3 goals and had 3 assists in the 7 games he’s played since he joined the team. Not only does Heber do his job well, he looks like he’s enjoying himself the whole time.
The second goal was scored on a play in LA’s box that was first called as an offside on City but ended up as a handball call on LA via VAR. Incredulously, Maxi Moralez stepped up to take the penalty kick, leaving most fans screaming at their screens “No! Anyone but Maxi!” as Moralez’s last two attempts at PKs this season were failures.
Moralez ended up burying this ball in the back of the net. For the record, Héber should take these PKs but perhaps out of respect and seniority he deferred to Moralez.
NYCFC has successfully and repeatedly made good use of the wingback role, with particular ease when the roles are executed by Tinnerholm and Ronald Matarrita. The match did end on a strange note with a seemingly frustrated Ibrahimovich and NYCFC’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson in a tangle of alleged body bumps and hands to the neck resulting in both players being booked on yellow cards.
It’s still early in the season but NYCFC have now moved up to 4th place in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia, DC and Montréal with their next call to arms on 5/25 in another away match versus Chicago Fire.
All images: NYCFC twitter
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