New York City FC finished the 2020 MLS regular season in style thanks to a 4-3 win over Chicago Fire at Soldier Field on Decision Day.
Here’s Five Points from a thrilling finale, presented by Etihad…
Finish in Style
Four successive wins to the end the season, including victories over Toronto FC and Red Bulls, have NYCFC entering the postseason as one of the league’s form teams.
For much of the season, we’ve celebrated the stoic defensive action and organization which have made City difficult to beat, but in the last couple of games it’s all been about the explosive attacking talent at our disposal.
Taty Castellanos, Gary Mackay-Steven, Jesús Medina and Maxi Moralez were devastating in Sunday’s game, especially in the first half, forcing Chicago to chase shadows.
In emerging victorious thanks to Taty’s second half winner, New York became just the second team to defeat the Fire at Soldier Field this year, setting us up nicely for what’s to come later in the month.
Note of Warning
Ronny Deila certainly wasn’t getting too carried away after the final whistle, delivering a sober reflection on the 90’ in his post-match press conference.
The Norwegian was satisfied with the attacking components of his side but was left disappointed with some sloppy concessions in the first half, demanding his side improve when the MLS Playoffs get under way.
Ronny said: “We won and we fully deserved to win but we shouldn’t have made it so exciting as it was in the end - we should have won more comfortably.”
Shutting it Down
There’s no doubt that the team came out for the second half at 3-3 with Ronny’s words still ringing in their ears as the match was a very different one after the break.
Gone was the freewheeling back and forth of the first 45’, replaced by a more cagey, tactical affair.
Like in the first half, Chicago were slightly edging it for the first 15’ of the half, but NYC took control from there on and in the end were great value for their 4-3 win, even if the winning goal was a bit of a gift in how the ball was presented to Castellanos.
With 15’ left to play, City impressed in the way they managed the remaining minutes, taking the sting out of the game against a Chicago side desperate to remain in the Playoff picture.
This kind of scenario planning could be key with single elimination matches kicking off November 21.
Taty’s Hot Streak
Taty took the Heineken Man of the Match vote after another supreme fully rounded strikers’ performance at Soldier Field.
Coming in hot off his hat-trick vs. the Red Bulls last time out, Castellanos fired off his signal of intent very early in the 90’ here, smashing the post in the early minutes after racing onto a great long pass from Maxime Chanot.
He didn’t look back from there, causing no end of problems for the Chicago backline and linking up beautifully with Mackay-Steven for his well-taken goal from an acute angle.
Castellanos now has six goals in his last seven appearances and will be a threat to any defense as City go forwards into the Playoffs feeling good about themselves.
For the longest time on Sunday afternoon NYCFC supporters were mentally preparing to take on Columbus Crew SC at the MAPFRE Stadium but Nashville’s dramatic late rally means we’ll be travelling back to Florida for Round One.
Despite that result, Oscar Pareja has had our 2015 expansion cousins playing some great football this year as the Lions have qualified for the postseason for the first time in their history.
Orlando dished out a defeat to NYCFC at the MLS is Back Tournament in their home state and the sides played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the regular season, so our boys will be eager to level up the seasonal head-to-head series and to move onto an Eastern Conference semi.
We’ll have confirmation of the date and time for that matchup as soon as it’s confirmed by the league here on NYCFC.com.