Tag Archives: Ismael Tajouri

You gotta have depth: NYCFC tops Montréal Impact 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

After an inconsistent start to the 2019 season, New York City Football Club appears to have found their groove with a 2-0 win over Montreal Impact.  The victory was, in part, due to solid play by the misunderstood Ben Sweat and smart strategy by the often-maligned Head Coach Dome Torrent.

Prior to this match, it looked like City had found a solid starting lineup:


However, injuries to Alexandru Mitrita, James Sands, and Ronald Matarrita suddenly made the team’s chances versus Montréal less certain.

Team depth, particularly in the midfield, paid off big time as Ben Sweat stepped up his game and executed his wingback role beyond expectations and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi returned to his starting position of right wing.

Tajouri-Shradi, one of 2018’s top team scorers, has not been consistently in the lineup, which was sparking questions from many fans.  The biggest cause for concern prior to this match was the injury of defensive powerhouse James Sands and how the team would fill in for his strength and consistency.

And in the end Torrent chose to go with a 3-4-3 just as certain adept fans so accurately predicted.

The depth of the team and the adherence to a strategy of ironically “widening the field” (you know, since we have such a narrow home pitch?) and playing the majority of attacking sequences down the flanks ultimately were the doom of the Impact.

With this ball and player pattern, Montreal had no idea who to cover and how to predict the play, particularly in the second half.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if this winning strategy was more effective on the road and the team ended up more successful on the road than at home? Is this likely? Probably not, but it would make things very interesting.

With goals scored by Moralez (6′) and Tajouri-Shradi (49′), the team demonstrated depth in offensive prowess and the ability to generate goals without Designated Player Mitrita and despite striker Héber having a rare non-productive outing.

Also worth noting is that the Impact generated a few first half goal scoring chances but NYCFC’s back line of Sebastien Ibeagha, Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot ultimately were consistent in their defense.

Tajouri-Shradi photo credit to NYCFC
Tajouri-Shradi dropping the hammer

Next up, NYCFC has three challenging games on the road: LA Galaxy on 5/11, Chicago Fire on 5/25 and Columbus Crew on 6/1 before returning home to host FC Cincinnati on 6/6.

I would anticipate that Coach Torrent will continue to utilize a formation with wingbacks, either with or without Sands.  Will this formation be as useful on the narrow home pitch? As of now, City is unbeaten over the past 6 games, but the matchup against the LA Galaxy will be a true test of this apparent upward momentum.

Featured Image:  NYCFC.com

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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.


Featured image courtesy: Keira Smith

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Two European attackers added to NYCFC’s roster

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

A lot of focus in the last few weeks in the New York City FC realm has been on both the MLS SuperDraft and on “Jack Harrison Watch”.  While all of this was going on, until today, the club has been active with signing new players. 

From the Austrian Bundesliga, we brought on goal scorer Ismael Tajouri.  Tajouri comes in as a possible wing or attacking midfielder from Austria Wien, the 24-time Austrian champions.  Tajouri is a truly international player having been born in Switzerland, moved to Austria when he was 9 and rose through Austria Wien’s youth program. 

He was loaned to SC Rheindorf Altach for two years where he helped the team achieve promotion to Austria’s First Division.  Austria Wien brought him back where he scored 10 goals in 36 appearances.  In the meantime, he also played on the U-20 team for Libya, his parents’ birth country. 

Clearly, his attacking skills and mindset (he was directly involved in more shots on goals than any other player in Austria’s Bundesliga last season), made him an attractive addition to NYCFC as we hope for more finishing up top.  Head coach Patrick Vieira also noted that Tajouri brings power, pace, good 1 vs 1 skills on offense and a really good work ethic.  Sporting director Claudio Reyna added that Tajouri has a lot of experience for his age. 

Another addition from Europe to hopefully take some of the goal scoring pressure off David Villa is Norwegian striker Jo Inge Berget.  Berget concluded a three-year contract with Swedish champions Malmö FF where he scored 25 goals in 77 appearances.  He was in talks to join Orlando City FC earlier this fall but may have been enticed to join NYCFC by the chance to play with his former Malmö teammate, defender Anton Tinnerholm

Coincidence that we have two Malmö players?  Probably not. Vieira seems to have a pattern of bringing in pockets of players from the same country, team or culture, presumably to accelerate the formation of the all-important, yet intangible chemistry.  Vieira spoke highly of Berget’s versatility, competitiveness, winning mentality and, of course, work ethic.  Reyna agreed with these strengths and added that Berget brings stature, (he is over 6 feet tall), to NYCFC’s attacking areas.

Berget started his footballing career in Norway, first at Lyn Toppfotball before being sold to top division team and three-time league champions Molde Fotballklubb.  In Berget’s team debut for Molde, he scored a championship-deciding goal against Tromso.

After spending three years with Molde and scoring 17 goals in 63 appearances, he followed his manager across the channel to Cardiff City and then was on brief loan to Celtic before signing onto the three-year deal in January 2015 with Malmö.  Berget also played internationally for Norway, first for their U-21 team. 

Expectations are high that both Tajouri and Berget will add depth, power, speed, and goals to NYCFC’s attack.

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