New York City Football Club earned a point on the road against Columbus Crew on Saturday.
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw at Lower.com Field as Justin Haak a historic first goal for the Club.
Here are Five Points from the game…
Haak in the Box
On a night when Patrick Schulte was in fine form for Columbus it was going to take something special to beat the goalkeeper.
Step up Justin Haak. The 21-year-old started the evening operating as part of a back three with Maxime Chanot and Tayvon Gray. He then highlighted his versatility by slotting into a more familiar midfield role, offering composure and bite in the middle of the park.
His tireless running caused Columbus problems, and while he’s not known as a goal scorer he did pop up with an important one on Saturday. The Brooklyn native made history by becoming the first homegrown player to find the net for NYCFC, and what a goal it was.
Taking a touch and then firing a shot with the outside of his boot, Haak’s composure and quality was rich reward for his diligence and hard work this season.
"I say all the time, I'm a huge believer that when you work hard, and you focus, and you give everything it gives back,” Nick Cushing said.
“I've said it in press conferences before and he is a guy that is working incredibly hard to make sure that he can put himself in the best place to play well.”
NYCFC’s best chance of the first half was all down to quick thinking.
Gabriel Pereira won a duel in midfield and then quickly turned and sought to play Richy Ledezma in behind. Ledezma will be disappointed he didn’t convert the chance, but the team’s ability to turn defence into attack so quickly will not have gone unnoticed.
The chance was symptomatic of several that NYCFC created on the night using quick, dangerous, transitions to try and catch out Columbus.
Nick Cushing has always been keen for his side to be able to create chances in a variety of ways, and Saturday’s game showed that counter-attacks are a skill this side possess.
Of the 42 goals Columbus have scored this season 22 have arrived during the first 45 minutes of action.
On Saturday, both teams went in tied and that was a fair reflection of the contest. In fact, NYCFC entered the locker room having out shot Columbus 5-4 in the first half. The Boys in Blue grew into the game and carried that momentum into the second period, starting the better side.
They carried that momentum into the second period and were deservedly ahead in the 75th minute after a well-executed game plan saw them settle and grow into the game.
The fact they were able to keep Columbus to only a single goal (the Crew have averaged more than two per game all season) deserves tremendous credit.
The game was delicately balanced and then it wasn’t.
Columbus, as the home team, were keen to dictate proceedings and control the ball. On the other side, NYCFC were able to find dangerous opportunities through quick breakaways and transitions.
That all changed in the 68th minute when Cucho Hernandez received a second yellow card for a high boot. NYCFC now were able to control possession, and it’s no surprise NYCFC’s goal came not long after that.
A chaotic end to the match saw the Crew equalize and ultimately both teams take a point, but the point at which the frenzy began was undoubtedly with Hernandez’s dismissal.
Seven days, three games, five points.
Nick Cushing was right to feel frustrated on Saturday night, but the team emerged from a difficult week better than they began it. The team collected five points from three difficult opponents, and pulled themselves closer to the playoff line in the process.
This group is still developing, but this week represented one full of positives.
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