New York City FC secured a good point on the road after their 1-1 result against Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium.
Here’s Five Points from a trip to the Sunshine State, presented by Etihad Airways…
A Test of Character
Ronny Deila said it best after the game:
“It says so much about the team. We are missing our older players that can make a difference, like Maxi and Alfredo, they are very important players for us. The boys go on and show themselves in that way; it just shows we are coming far - the way we spoke about before the season - about togetherness, being a team.
“Everybody is performing, everybody is doing their job and they keep their discipline. There was leadership on the field today as well. We go 1-0 down after a fantastic finish from Nani, they didn’t have any chances before that.”
It would have been easy for NYCFC to feel sorry for themselves after a brilliant strike from Nani put Orlando City ahead. Instead, the group rallied and earned a deserved equalizer from the penalty spot.
Both the players and the coaching staff talked up the spirit of the group heading into the season, but that claim was only ever going to be validated when the chips were down. The Boys in Blue didn’t fold at Exploria Stadium, and they can be proud of that.
Acevedo Comes in
Nicolás Acevedo came into the starting XI for the first time this season against Orlando City SC, and we saw flickers of his potential.
Acevedo has had to be patient since joining NYCFC, which speaks to the quality the team has in that position.
To his credit, the 22-year-old gave Ronny Deila something to think about by creating two very good chances for NYCFC. The first, in the 28th minute, saw him curl a delightful pass into space for Taty Castellanos to run onto.
The second came in injury time and almost won the game for the Boys in the Blue. Acevedo likes to operate as a deep-lying playmaker, and for that reason, he offers a slightly different skill set compared to his competition at the base of midfield.
Given NYCFC like transitioning quickly, Acevedo is a valuable player to have, and the key will be showing Deila he can be both a defensive and offensive asset.
Still, he came in against a good Orlando side, who like NYCFC, want to dominate the ball and wasn’t overwhelmed is a positive early sign for Acevedo. His return may not have brought all three points, but it’s certainly left his coach with something to ponder.
Ronny Deila put his faith in Andres Jasson on Saturday by starting the teenager in the number 10 role.
It’s worth remembering that a young player’s development is rarely linear, and the transition to the First Team isn’t easy. The play is quicker, you often get fewer touches, and your opponents are often more physically developed than what you’re accustomed to.
In short, there will be ups and downs, and it’s vital a young player receives support through both. When it comes to evaluating Saturday, it was likely one of Jasson’s more strenuous experiences with the First Team against a tough-tackling home side.
The teenager seems to be a magnet for fouls (he won several penalties during preseason), and against Orlando, he certainly faced a physical challenge in Ruan.
When he was able to get on the ball, it felt like Jasson was a degree or two away from doing something really special. He stung the palms of Gallese early doors, produced a handful of nice dribbles, and linked up well with Taty Castellanos and Jesús Medina before coming off in the 65th minute.
Saturday might not have produced that breakout moment, but it was another good experience in his development with the club.
Isi’s Decisive Cameo
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was asked to make a difference, and he did just that.
The Libyan came on as a second-half substitute for Jasson, and took very little time to show why he is so highly regarded. 2020 was something of a stop-start year with injuries for Tajouri-Shradi, but few will contest he is a dynamic forward that can commit opposition players and create chances for himself; something he showed during Saturday’s cameo.
Winning the penalty which tied the game, Isi went on another similar mazy run later on and did his chances of returning to the XI no harm at all.
Ice Cool Taty
The trip to Orlando this week dredged up a lot of feelings. Anton Tinnerholm called last season’s playoff defeat to the Lions’ brutal’, and it’s hard to disagree.
No one would have blamed Taty Castellanos for feeling nervous when he put the ball down on the same spot against the same goalkeeper that he missed against a little under six months prior.
Instead, Castellanos was the coolest man in the stadium and slotted the ball into the bottom corner. A lot has been said about Taty these last few weeks, but the striker has let his play do the talking and come up big for his team several times.
His ability to be a focal point in attack, holding the ball up, bringing his teammates into the game, is vital for NYCFC, and the fact he is one of only five players ever to score in the first four games of an MLS regular season, shows just how well he has started this season.
New York City FC are back in action at Yankee Stadium against Toronto FC on Saturday, May 15 with kickoff taking place at 1 PM ET (YES App/NYCFC.com/Radio).