Columbus Crew SC Goals: Zelarayan 56'
A fourth minute Maxime Chanot red card and a 56th minute Lucas Zeralayan goal undid New York City FC in their opening game of the 25th MLS season vs. Columbus Crew SC at the MAPFRE Stadium.
Sean Johnson made his 100th MLS appearance for NYCFC and put in an excellent performance in a battling, stubborn but ultimately fruitless afternoon for the Boys in Blue in Ohio.
Coming in hot off City’s Concacaf Champions League win over AD San Carlos, Ronny Deila made one change to the lineup for his first-ever MLS game in charge with Héber replacing Taty Castellanos as the central striker.
Confidence was high but NYC were dealt a crushing blow with just 4 minutes on the clock as Maxime Chanot was red carded for what was deemed a last-man challenge, reducing the road team to ten players with 85 minutes remaining.
A rough challenge on Anton Tinnerholm in the first 10’ meant that the Swede needed treatment and led to another lengthy stoppage, robbing the match of any early momentum.
Deila reacted to the red card by bringing Sebastien Ibeagha into a back three, sacrificing Jesus Medina from the attack and switching to a 5-3-2/3-5-1 formation as City looked to recover from the early setback.
Celebrating his induction into The Century Club on his 100th MLS appearance for NYCFC, Johnson was required on a few occasions to command his area with solid handling but on the whole, City limited Columbus to half chances in a resolute, stubborn first 45’.
It was the 10-man visitors who had the first half’s best chance on 42’ when Alex Ring’s smartly-taken free-kick found Ronald Matarrita for a rocket of a volley from an acute angle which forced a good save out of Eloy Room and the game’s first corner.
Neither side could argue with the goalless halftime scoreline but City were indebted to their goalkeeper again for keeping it that way early in the second half when he made a big save to keep it 0-0.
However, there was nothing the centurion could do on 56’ when The Crew’s record signing Lucas Zalarayan curled the opening goal of the match into the upper 90 after cutting inside from the flank.
Ibeagha was withdrawn with an injury shortly after, with Keaton Parks coming into the game and Taty Castellanos also replaced Héber with 20’ to go as NYC chased down an equalizer.
Mitriță worked himself into a good position for it, winding in from the byline, before seeing his shot blocked by Room.
A final opportunity to grab a share of the spoils arrived late on but Castellanos could only find the sidenetting with the angle against him, meaning City succumbed to an opening day defeat and will dust themselves down for a trip to Toronto next weekend.
Heineken Man of the Match
As voted on Twitter: Sean Johnson (51.3% of the vote)
How We Lined Up
New York City FC are back on the road vs. Toronto next Saturday, March 7 at 5:00PM ET (YES Network).