NYCFC got off to a bright start in their second match in four days, dominating possession in the attacking half through the early minutes.
In the third minute, NYCFC were denied a penalty shout when Yangel Herrera made a brilliant tackle in the final third, carried the ball into the box, and had his legs swept out from under him by Johan Kappelhof before he was able to get a shot off.
“I think to manage to win the game we did today, you don’t win these types of games if you don’t show the togetherness, the character, and I think today we showed a little desire and a little discipline as well,” said coach Patrick Viera. “When I looked at the players after the game in the dressing room, I couldn’t have asked for more than what they gave today. They managed to keep the result and win the game because of the way they played today.”
This would be far from the only action of the opening minutes. Not long after, Herrera was on the other end of some foul play, quickly earning two yellow cards and finding himself sent off after just ten minutes. Despite the numerical disadvantage, NYCFC didn’t take their foot off the gas. Plenty of possession and attacking intent were present for City.
As the half wore on, Chicago found their way into the match more and more, mounting some attacking pressure and working the ball down the wings. NYCFC, playing something like a 4-1-3-1 after losing Herrera, NYCFC coped with the pressure by concentrating bodies centrally.
Just past the half hour mark, Ben Sweat was subbed off after colliding with Frederic Brillant as the two went up to head a Chicago corner clear of the box. Vieira brought on midfielder Mikey Lopez, looking to provide NYCFC with even more midfield presence.
NYCFC were on the attack again soon enough, and in the 38th minute, Jonathan Lewis almost struck gold in his debut start.
That would have been pretty, pretty cool.
The next dangerous moment came just on the stroke of 45 minutes, as Johan Kappelhof sent in a shot from long range that was deflected at the top of the box, forcing Sean Johnson into a terrific save. With little time to react, Johnson managed to get his fingertips on the ball, sending it over the bar and out of danger.
David Villa gave NYCFC the best possible start to the second half, volleying home a cross from Jonathan Lewis to put City up 1-0. Lewis latched onto the ball down the right flank, putting the moves on Chicago’s Brandon Vincent before cutting the ball back to the top of the box for Villa.
Just a few minutes later, NYCFC found the back of the net again. Though this one was much less aesthetically pleasing than the first goal, they all count. After a scramble in the box, Frederic Brillant found a way to get his head on the ball and a Chicago defender’s foot at the same time, nudging the ball into the back of the net.
The flurry of action wasn’t over yet, though. Chicago would pull one back in the 54th minute by way of a long-range David Accam strike. NYCFC were looking to break out after clearing a corner kick, but Accam’s half-tackle-half-shot attempt from 25 yards struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced in just over the goalline.
NYCFC would have another penalty shout denied in the 61st minute, as Maxi Moralez was judged to have been fouled just outside the Chicago box. A blaze of half-chances from the free kick would follow, but the Fire would be bailed out by an offside call.
NYCFC once again dropped their defensive lines a little bit deeper as the half wore on, but managed to build possession and attacking chances even into the final minutes, when some fancy footwork helped the Blues wind down the clock as the game drew to a close.
City would go onto survive a blizzard of shots from Chicago as they mounted a final push that extended into extra time, thanks in no small part to some heroics from Sean Johnson, who was facing his former team for the first time today.