New York City FC enjoyed a tremendous penalty shootout victory against New England Revolution on Tuesday night to secure their spot in their Eastern Conference Final.
Here are Five Points from an unforgettable evening in Foxborough.
More Happy Memories
How did you sleep last night?
If the nerves were jangling on Monday night as you lay your head on the pillow, they were like a wind chime in a hurricane a little under 24 hours later. Soccer, this crazy game with 22 players and a possibility for every emotion delivers so much in such a short space of time, and that was true against New England Revolution.
While it may seem like the win against New England was 120 minutes of action and 10 penalty kicks, so much of the work to get there was done throughout 2021 and before that.
The togetherness and spirit of this group was on full display against a very talented New England team, and to reach the Eastern Conference Finals via penalties felt a fitting way to banish the memories of the past and make some good ones.
As Club Captain Sean Johnson said afterwards, “This game means everything, winning means everything, chasing a trophy for this club means everything.”
If you read Keys to the Match in the build up to this game we noted that it was vital that New York City FC attacked the game from the first moments, and they certainly did that.
Santiago Rodríguez’s opener was a testament to not only the team’s ability to start games at speed, but also how they can shift up through the gears quickly and effectively.
If you go back to the Club’s first goal of the season you will remember how NYCFC switched the point of attack with direct passing against D.C. United to open the scoring, and that was on show in Foxborough again last night.
It was Rodríguez’s pass that started the move and allowed NYCFC to create an overload down the right and facilitate the chance for Rodríguez to convert. When New York gather that kind of momentum in the final third few, if any, teams can cope with them, and that trait has defined their season. A great moment that set them on the path to victory.
New York City FC didn’t have it all their own way on Tuesday night.
After losing Taty Castellanos to a second bookable offense, the tide shifted in favor of the hosts, and after Tajon Buchanan equalized Bruce Arena’s men went hard for the win. They could easily have achieved that goal had Adam Buksa’s shot not been fantastically tipped over by Sean Johnson.
Then, in the penalty shootout, Johnson guessed right to save Buksa’s penalty and give NYCFC the advantage. In big moments big players and big characters are needed, and NYCFC saw that across the field on Tuesday and no more so than in their captain.
One For The Family
A midweek trip to just outside of Boston is no small feat, but a band of brave souls did that, alongside the family and friends of the first team.
They made their presence known from the moment they entered the stadium and having the 12th man in attendance was a great boost to the players as they chased down their first playoff semifinal victory.
“As a captain it was incredible to see,” Sean Johnson said afterwards. “We talk about a family here, the traveling support, our supporters’ section was unbelievable. They came out in full force, they were loud, our families traveled up for the game, so this meant everything. Every game has a significance, and every game is a step toward what we want to achieve, and ultimately, that's MLS Cup. We’re so happy to get the victory tonight, and we'll enjoy it. but then we'll get back to work and prepare to meet our next challenge.”
For those in attendance, for those back in New York cheering the team on, this was for you.
Set The Tone
Alfredo Morales was not ready to wear the underdog tag heading into Tuesday’s game.
The U.S. international has played at the highest level and knew his team could more than match their opponents on Tuesday. As one of the more experienced members of the roster he knew it was important he helped lead the team forward, and when the game kicked off Morales let his play do the talking.
Using all of his experience and intelligence he shut off passing lanes to limit space for New England’s star attackers and when in possession he made sure the ball moved quickly and efficiently to teammates in space.
He made sure the team’s fullbacks were rarely isolated, and at key points helped stifle New England’s wide players and their attempts to use their pace in the final third. Morales, among other things, was brought to the team for his experience and it showed in a big way on Tuesday.