Three out of three…
NYCFC kept up their perfect start to 2018 with a comfortable 2-0 win over Orlando City at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, this game came too soon for Anton Tinnerholm and David Villa, who both sat out with mild injuries, while Jo Inge Berget will have to remain patient in waiting for his NYCFC debut after he was taken ill with the flu on the night before the match.
That gave Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Saad Abdul-Salaam their first City starts, while Maxime Chanot returned from suspension to partner up with Alexander Callens at the back.
Orlando arrived late due to the St Patrick’s Day parade traffic so it was an understandably low-key opening to the match with both sides taking some time to settle into their flow on a sunny March day in the Bronx.
The first sight of goal arrived on 32’ when the visitors broke from a turnover but Sean Johnson was there to make a comfortable save down to his right from Justin Meram.
A minute later, City were a lick of paint away from taking the lead themselves courtesy of Rodney Wallace’s towering header from a Maxi Moralez serve, but the ball came back off the inside of the post with Joe Bendik beaten all ends up.
Those were the two spikes in an otherwise strangely subdued opening 45’ in the BX but the second half promised to be more dramatic with three points on the line.
“We kept our discipline on the field and we waited for the right time,” said coach Patrick Vieira. “When they made their mistakes we took our chances and I don’t think it was our fault, I thought it was Orlando making it really difficult for us.”
Meram once again had the first chance of the half after wriggling clear down the right channel but, although Johnson was scrambling, the former Columbus man dragged his effort wide.
A minute later, NYCFC had their best chance of the afternoon so far, when Medina played in Moralez but, like Meram before him, the Argentine failed to pick out the far corner of the net, pulling his shot a foot past the far post.
When the first goal arrived on 62’, it came courtesy of a moment of indecision from the Orlando backline as Bendik passed the ball straight to Tajouri-Shradi.
A less composed forward may shot straightaway, but the Libyan had the presence of mind to take a touch to improve his angle, before slotting it clinically past the goalkeeper.
Just ten minutes on, it got even better for City, as Moralez bagged his second of the campaign after some delightful interplay.
Wallace, the forward, carried the charge into the area and found Medina who touched it back to Moralez who struck first time into the bottom corner, capping a devastating three-point move.
“That’s what we’re looking for – consistency,” said Wallace. “Being three games that we’ve now won and we’ve put up good results, good performances, it’s good for us.”
Orlando did have one chance to hit back late in the game but Johnson hit the underside of the bar with his powerful effort, summing up their afternoon.
The only downside on an otherwise perfect day for the home side was the sight of Ronald Matarrita leaving the field with an injury on 72′.
Now it’s on to New England where NYCFC hope to make it four from four to further improve the team’s best-ever MLS start.
- New York City FC has started the season 3-0-0 for the first time in Club history. This is the longest unbeaten run to begin a campaign since 2015. This year’s Boys in Blue have gained all nine points at stake, as opposed to the five the 2015 squad earned.
- In his first start in City colors, Ismael Tajorui scored his first goal for the club in the 62nd minute.
- NYCFC showed its squad depth while missing forward David Villa and right back Anton Tinnerholm. The two goal scorers from last week unfortunately did not reach full fitness for today’s match, however Tajorui and Saad Abdul-Salaam filled in just fine. Tajouri found the back of the net and Abdul-Salaam helped anchor the NYCFC defense to its second clean sheet in three weeks.
- Jesus Medina has either assisted or scored in each of his three NYCFC appearances.