Tag Archives: Heber

NYCFC find their groove against the Galaxy, winning 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

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’s first goal was scored by HĂ©ber on a rebound of an Anton Tinnerholm shot.  HĂ©ber 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, HĂ©ber should take these PKs but perhaps out of respect and seniority he deferred to Moralez.

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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 MontrĂ©al with their next call to arms on 5/25 in another away match versus Chicago Fire.

All images:  NYCFC twitter

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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James Sands is a honey badger*

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club managed to pull out 7 points in 7 days with glimmers of hope for even better play going forward.  To recap, NYCFC played 3 games in a 7 day stretch pulling out a road victory against DC United 2-0, a home victory 1-0 versus Chicago Fire and drawing with Orlando City SC 1-1 most recently.

Not surprisingly, the team’s best performance and the seemingly unlikely road win against a strong DC United, was a result of Coach Dome Torrent playing new Brazilian striker HĂ©ber, alongside Alexandru Mitrita and Maxi Moralez.  The threesome demonstrated some early signs of offensive chemistry.

Unfortunately, Mitrita suffered an ankle injury in that match resulting in him not playing against Chicago Fire and playing limited minutes off the bench versus Orlando SC.  The magical recipe for strong attack combines these three players with a dash of Taty Castellanos and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

HĂ©ber of NYCFC
HĂ©ber of NYCFC warms up

The other big takeaway from the week:  James Sands is basically a human honey badger on the field and you know what they say about honey badgers?

Sands, the club’s first homegrown who began starting in a defensive role this season has been the bane of many a seasoned opposing player’s existence.  He’s been on NYCFC’s roster for the past three years with limited play time but he has been a constant defensive force this season.  

Has the team struggled to score goals this year?  Yes, but the team has only lost one match to date.

Over the past three games, Sands took Wayne Rooney out of most of DC United’s attacking chances in the mid field and almost completely neutralized CJ Sapong on Chicago Fire.  He gave Nani and Dom Dwyer of OCSC zero space to maneuver. Sands does not defer and even slightly back off very seasoned and sometimes legendary opponents and seems fully committed to sacrificing his body in the process of stopping a play when necessary.  

His ability to think ahead and predict the play seems way beyond his 18 years.  He deserves a lot of credit for his consistent, physical, intelligent and lack-of-drama style of play.

James Sands
James Sands

*Update:  Sands has not been in training due to a pulled abductor muscle which happened in the match against Orlando City.  So he will, most likely, miss the next match against MontrĂ©al Impact on Saturday.   So alas, he is an injured honey badger.  

NYCFC will make their first attempt to win a match without Sands.  I’m a bit nervous.

Featured and all images: Tisha Gale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC keeps winless streak alive, tying Montreal 0-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

“A tough battle in the Bronx ends in a stalemate” is what I should write about this week’s NYCFC loss -strike that – TIE with Montreal Impact.  Yet this should not have been a tough game, particularly with the Impact missing the injured Ignacio Piatti.  This should have been a relatively easy home match for New York City. 

From where I sat, the game can be summed up as: “Taty Castellanos was trying hard in front of the goal but getting few balls, while Héber isn’t yet fully fit but was basically invisible when he was subbed in.  City should have made something of the 20 minutes when they were up a man and, without Maxi Moralez, the team is a rudderless ship.”

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NYCFC’s Valentin “Taty” Castellanos

It’s interesting how as New Yorkers, we expect the best:  in food, entertainment, lodging, museums, shopping. And yet, we seem to historically accept mediocrity from our local sports teams.  New York City Football Club is still winless in 2019 over 4 games with three of them at home.   The team is actually winless over the past 7 games if you go back to 2018 playoffs. The last win for New York was October 28, 2018, against the Philadelphia Union. Some fans are outspoken in their frustration and others are exhibiting signs of learned helplessness.

So for all of you sad, angry and exasperated NYCFC fans out there, here are some other historically awful winless streaks by New York metro area teams:

New York Knicks – 2018-2019 – 18 game losing streak

New York Nets – 2009-2010 – 18 losses in a row

New York Mets 1962 – 17 game losing streak

New York Islanders – 2010-2011 –  14 losses in a row

New York Giants 1976 – 9 game losing streak

Even our winningest New York team, the Yankees, lost 12 in a row in 1908.  And the New York Jets in 2014 (and 1975 & 1996) lost 8 in a row and still don’t have their own stadium!

Feel better now?  

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The still winless NYCFC squad

NYCFC next heads out to the brand-spanking-new Allianz stadium in St. Paul to face Minnesota United Football Club in their very first match in their new home.  Most fans have zero expectations except for a loss as the team just can’t seem to win on the road.  However, MNUFC was once also a team new to the league playing pretty terribly as recently as last year, also in someone else’s stadium and look at them now.  It’s early in the season, but Minnesota is currently in a playoff contention spot, has one of the league’s most attractive stadiums with interactive lights and a deeply devoted fan base.

If New York City FC could get one of these things, it would be a step in the right direction.

All images by Tisha Gale // @tishagale15 on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale