Well, that was a lot of fun.
Here’s five things Mark Booth learned from a dramatic night’s play at the Bank of California Stadium…
Patrick Vieira wanted a reaction and he got it.
It’s been all business all week as the squad has worked to wash the heavy derby defeat to Red Bulls out of systems but they couldn’t have been given a much more difficult assignment.
Not only did NYCFC have to brave a raucous atmosphere at the Expansion Team’s freshly-minted home, they were facing off against one of the league’s form sides on the back of a six-hour bicoastal flight.
Scoring first from David Villa’s penalty rebound, LAFC turned the tide and looked to be on for yet another home win but, just when it looked all set up for City to fall to back-to-back defeats for the first time since April 2016, our Boys in Blue rallied. Again.
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was the hero, climbing off the bench to hammer in the equalizer, setting up a grandstand finale where both teams had chances to take the three points.
Sean Johnson and Tyler Miller both stood on their heads, defenders put in umpteen last ditch blocks and the woodwork was regularly rattled but there were no more goals and the spoils were shared.
It felt like a fair result after a brilliantly attacking, breathless, chaotic, end-to-end, instant classic of an MLS showdown.
Can we play them every week?
Anton in Beast Mode
Typically, a good full-back flies under the radar and serves up competent, unfussy performances but Anton Tinnerholm isn’t your typical full-back – he does all of that unglamorous stuff and so much more.
Two incredible volleys earned him his TinnerBOOM nickname but, although he didn’t score this time, this was his best performance yet in an NYCFC jersey.
Heavily involved in City’s excellent build-up play and almost-comically influential in the final 20’ as he threw his body on the line into multiple (painful-looking) duels, Anton characterized a battling performance from Vieira’s men better than anyone.
… and how we missed him.
Isi didn’t take long to add to his four NYCFC goals following his hamstring injury, scoring a goal that got better with each subsequent viewing.
On first glance, it was a nice finish from a rebound but when you saw how squeezed the space was with a defender bearing down on him, with the angle narrowing, with the ball above hip height, requiring the forward to contort and wrap his foot around the volley, it was an outrageous strike and should be in the mix for MLS Goal of the Week.
Tajouri-Shradi has enjoyed a dream start to life at NYCFC and we can’t wait to see more of the 24-year old in the coming weeks.
Patrick didn’t sit on his hands when LAFC took the lead, instead making a decisive change which transformed the complexion of the game.
We’ve already covered the introduction of Tajouri-Shradi which translated into our second goal but the change from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2 allowed the likes of Berget and Medina to all increase their influence on the game, with Matarrita and Tinnerholm serving up gold from the flanks.
Both sides can come away saying that they could easily have taken the three points but the chances for Berget and Medina which Miller saved were two of the most meaningful conjured up in that crazy last 15’.
On another day, we could have been flying back with all three points but you have to credit the LAFC goalkeeper for two excellent saves.
Guess David didn’t want #Villa402 to come from a set-piece…
The captain rarely misses from the spot but he had the presence of mind and predatory instinct to follow up on Miller’s save, diving to head the ball into the empty net with the ‘keeper still on his back.
It was another excellent performance from El Guaje as he held the ball up as the trequartista at the peak of NYC’s attack, running down loose balls and knitting together moves all night long.
Fittingly, we celebrate David Villa Day in New York City on Saturday in the Bronx when Colorado Rapids are the visitors, looking back on an incredible career which shows no signs of slowing up.