New York City FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Atlanta United on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
In a game full of talking points, here’s what we learned from what turned out to be the final game of the Patrick Vieira era…
How did NYCFC not win this game?
The Boys in Blue did everything but score (more than once), working Brad Guzan nine times from 25 shots over the course of the 90’.
Atlanta’s goalkeeper was the name on all lips following the game after the Five Stripes’ stopper stood on his head to prevent City from maintaining their perfect home record.
When the ball hits the inside of the post, rolls across the line and out of harm’s way in stoppage-time, it’s just not your day…
Still, it could have been worse for NYCFC based on how this one played out.
Josef Martinez scored with Atlanta’s first shot on target, three minutes into the second half, punishing the home side for their missed chances in the first period.
For a long time, it looked as though that might be enough for all three points, until Alexander Callens demonstrated his penalty box instinct to pounce and crash home David Villa’s flick-on.
City threw absolutely everything they had in the final 15’ but Guzan and the woodwork stood firm against a tidal wave of pressure to keep it level.
These teams can just not be separated.
NYCFC and Atlanta United still boast symmetrical records through four meetings in what is quickly becoming one of the league’s most exciting fixtures (P4, W1, D2).
There had been four goals scored on each meeting between the teams until Saturday, but what this one lacked in goals, it more than made up for in entertainment value.
As well as the goals, the saves and the many rattles of the post, there were some contentious decisions which would have been talked over in the taverns surrounding Yankee Stadium for many hours after the full-time whistle sounded.
20k Mins Later
For Sean Johnson, this would have been a day he would have expected to be busy, facing off against the league’s most potent attack after 14 games.
However, that was not how it played out – instead, he just had to be at his best twice: for the goal, which he could have done nothing about, and later on when he stood tall to turn away a one-on-one chance.
Sean passed the 20,000 MLS minutes mark in the 44th minute – a testament to the longevity of one of the league’s most consistent no.1s.
Here’s to 20,000 more #ForTheCity.
A breathless, rollercoaster three-game week comes to an end and the Boys in Blue will have time to reflect on a solid start to 2018 which sees them well in contention towards the league summit.
Recovering from the US Open Cup defeat to Red Bulls was crucial here, to ensure we could go into the break feeling good about ourselves and ready for the challenges that await us in the second half of the season.
The players will resume work under a new Head Coach later this week when the greatest show on earth kicks off in Russia, before we all reconvene on June 24 in the Bronx for the visit of the reigning champions.
It’s a pretty good time to like soccer…