New York City FC got back to winning ways against New England Revolution on Saturday night.
Here’s Five Points from a big win in the Bronx, presented by Etihad Airways…
As we discussed in midweek the visit of New England Revolution represented an important moment for both teams.
The Revs were on a nine-game unbeaten run, stretching back to July, while New York City FC were trying to close the gap on their opponents at the top of the Eastern Conference. Bruce Arena set out his side in a disciplined 4-4-2 formation, and tasked NYCFC with finding gaps where at first it seemed there were none.
After a fast-paced start, the Boys in Blue did well to control the tempo of the game and move the Revs around the field. The combination of NYCFC’s attackers flooding the central area and the full-backs offering width made it difficult for the Revs to cope.
Arena’s side certainly offered a threat, and Matt Turner was again a formidable foe between the posts, but this game was another reminder that NYCFC can go up against the best in MLS and emerge victorious. It feels like the team still has further room to grow before hitting its ceiling, and that should excite fans.
Taty Hits Double Figures
It’s been a big year for NYCFC’s number 11.
The striker signed a new long-term contract with the team in May, and his performances in MLS have him on course for his best season in front of goal. There is confidence exuding from the striker, and that was on full display against New England.
Castellanos’ scored his ninth and tenth goal of the campaign thanks largely to great instincts. For his first, the decision to not stand still after laying the ball back to Maxi Moralez allowed him to head past Matt Turner. For his second, Castellanos was smart to peel to the back post and play on the blindside of DeJuan Jones.
That allowed him to run off the defender and execute a simple finish from close range. While his hold-up play and is a great asset to the team, strikers make their living from goals, and Castellanos has looked back to his best in front of goal lately.
It was always going to take something special or inventive to penetrate the New England Revolution’s backline, and Maxi Moralez had the key.
The veteran playmaker, alongside teammates Jesús Medina and Santiago Rodríguez, was granted the freedom to roam across the final third and find spaces wherever they arrived. With the Revs backline giving up very little space, it would be hard for almost any player to thread a pass through the backline, and that’s where Moralez’s brilliance took hold for the opener.
His quick thinking and flawless execution gave NYCFC a vital breakthrough in the first half, and he pulled a similar trick again in the second period. On a frantic night of fast-paced soccer in the Bronx, Maxi was the man that could slow things down and find highways where others only saw alleyways.
That is an invaluable skill to have, and one of the many reasons he is such an asset to this group.
A good goalkeeper is often a dependable one.
Having confidence in the player between the posts is often vital for a team that aspires to win championships, and that’s what NYCFC have in Sean Johnson. The Club’s captain has been a key figure in helping set the tone for this group, and on Saturday he was there when his teammates needed him.
As much as NYCFC were in control of the open play, the Revs had a sucker-punch threat on the counter, as evidenced by Gustavo Bou’s shot in the second half. Johnson got down well to tip that effort round the post, and while Saturday’s game may not have been his busiest in an NYCFC jersey it posed an altogether different challenge.
Johnson needed to stay focused and not lose his concentration as the few times he was called into action it required a big stop, or a confident catch through traffic.
The shot-stopper knew what was needed and delivered it. You can’t ask any more than that.
Maintain That Level
Ronny Deila used all five of his allotted substitutes on Saturday night, and the level of NYCFC’s play did not drop.
With the starting XI setting such a high standard the challenge is set for those entering the field to not only maintain that level but surpass it. This group is working together for the same goal, and that is why the team’s depth is a major asset.