New York City Football Club earned a point on the road at Orlando City SC on Wednesday night.
Gabe Segal’s first goal for the Club salvaged a last-gasp draw for the Boys in Blue, after Ercan Kara had opened the scoring with a header early on.
Here are Five Points from the trip to Florida…
A Point Of Pride
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Nick Cushing was full of praise for his side’s character and fighting spirit to have battled back from a goal down, and in such dramatic circumstances.
On the back of a four-game losing streak on the road and low on confidence, the team could have been forgiven for ruling this game out as another bad day at the office.
Instead, they dug deep within themselves, unearthing real grit, determination and resilience, to bring that tough run to a welcome end – and you could see just what it meant to the players and staff.
The team gathered on the pitch at the end of the game in a huddle – a true show of solidarity and togetherness – to reflect on the game, and the moment that ensured the squad head into a ten-day break on a positive note, able to put their recent struggles behind them.
Seasons can be defined by such moments. Whether the equalizer at Exploria Stadium will prove a turning point in the campaign, only time will tell… but it certainly felt significant.
Gift Of The Gabe
Happy birthday, Gabe Segal!
The forward turned 22 on Wednesday and celebrated in style with his first goal in NYCFC colors – and what a time to score it!
With just a minute of normal time left on the clock, Segal slid home Talles Magno’s delivery to earn a precious point, and fulfil his half-time prophecy…
Introduced from the bench at the break to help boost City’s attacking threat, he told his Head Coach he would go on to mark his special day with a goal – and that he did.
Cushing could not have been more delighted with the youngster’s contribution, declaring after the game Segal was fully deserving of his plaudits for his tireless workrate and strong team ethic.
The first of many, Gabe!
Cometh The Hour
On the subject of key moments, the importance of Luis Barraza’s save on the hour-mark cannot be overestimated.
The goalkeeper produced an excellent low stop to deny Antônio Carlos, palming away the effort with a strong hand after the Orlando defender had met a flicked-on corner.
Had Barraza not been as alert to showcase his superb reflexes, City would have found themselves two behind with a mountain to climb.
Cushing rightly described the save as ‘world-class’, acknowledging its importance in keeping the Boys in Blue in the game.
It was one of three saves April’s Etihad Player of the Month made in Florida, as he continues to impress in the number one jersey.
For The City
One of the most pleasing aspects of the clash was the players’ desire to each make a contribution.
There was certainly no lack of effort or desire as the squad battled against the humidity – be it the starting XI or the substitutes – and the team pulled together to ensure their five-game road stretch did not end with another setback.
Cushing had spoken of the need for his senior leaders to step up in difficult moments, and Thiago Martins and Maxime Chanot's rousing post-game speeches demonstrated how those leaders are helping to encourage the younger members of the team.
“Those guys know what this team needs, and what a successful MLS team needs,” the Head Coach said.
“Those guys have been disappointed over the last three, four weeks. They know that when you don’t play your best football, and you don’t create clear chances, there’s still a chance of you staying in a game – but you have to grind it.
“He [Thiago] wanted to convey that message to the team, he wanted to congratulate certain guys that dug in deep. Ultimately, he plays a role – just like Maxime Chanot, James Sands, Keaton Parks, Luis Barraza – in educating and helping the younger guys (because we’re a young team) in learning that sometimes, it doesn’t go for you… Sometimes, you’ve just got to grind it out, and I think that was a really important point for us.”
Rest And Recover
With a bye this weekend, the City Boys now enter a well-deserved ten-day break.
A heavy fixture schedule over the past few weeks has seen the Boys in Blue rack up the airmiles with five successive trips, and four games in 11 days.
The players and staff will spend some downtime with their friends and families this weekend – able to switch off mentally after a tough period – and will return refreshed and ready to go.
Back to full power having recharged the batteries, New York will relish a three-game home stand where the squad face Philadelphia Union, FC Cincinnati and New England Revolution at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
With 13 points at home from a possible 15 so far in 2023, the next few weeks could be crucial in igniting City’s charge for silverware.
New York City Football Club are back at home next time out, welcoming Philadelphia Union to Citi Field. The clash kicks off at 7:30pm ET on Saturday, May 27, and tickets are available.
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