New York City FC maintained their perfect start to Season 4 with Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Orlando City SC.
Here’s Managing Editor Mark Booth with five things we learned from another winning afternoon in the Bronx…
Patrick Vieira revealed that he was more pleased with this win than the previous two in his post-game press conference.
The Frenchman emphasized that the maturity his team demonstrated elevated this performance above the victories over Sporting Kansas City and LA Galaxy.
Taking on Orlando without Jo Inge Berget, Anton Tinnerholm and David Villa, who were ruled out late in the day, NYCFC had to be patient in waiting for their opportunities to seize the initiative but, when they came, the hosts were devastatingly clinical.
First, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, playing in an unfamiliar no.9 position, capitalized when Joe Bendik misplaced his pass, before Maxi Moralez, who spun silky webs all afternoon, capped off a beautiful attacking triangle with Jesus Medina and Saad Abdul-Salaam to make it 2-0.
Perhaps this performance wasn’t as creative as the ones we saw in the last two weeks, but it was controlled and clinical - a gameplan executed.
South American Connection
NYCFC had good performances all over the field on Saturday afternoon but the South American attacking duo were arguably the standouts.
Medina and Moralez have only played three competitive games together but they already look to have a strong connection on the pitch, as evidenced in the move which carved out the game-clinching second goal.
The youngest of NYCFC’s DPs made the serve, cushioning Abdul-Salaam's pass into the stride of Moralez who could not have placed his finish better by hand.
Vieira praised both in his press conference and suggested that there will be more to come from them as they continue to build chemistry in the weeks ahead… a mouthwatering prospect, indeed!
The injuries to Tinnerholm and Villa enabled Abdul-Salaam and Tajouri-Shradi to come into the XI for their first City starts and both grasped their opportunities with both hands.
Tajouri-Shradi was voted Heineken Star of the Game by fans, thanks to his first goal and a committed performance in a role which was unfamiliar to the man signed from Austria Wien in the offseason.
Abdul-Salaam also offered plenty on both sides of the ball, earning approving sounds from Vieira who believes that both demonstrated just how deep this squad is.
Vieira said: “Anton and David didn’t make it today but Ismael played really well as a no.9. Saad as well - it was the first time he played a game with us and he played really well. I’m glad because it just shows how good this squad is.”
The only downside on an otherwise perfect day was the sight of Ronald Matarrita leaving the field with an injury.
Ronald endured a stop-start 2017 season and had worked hard to get back to full fitness in preseason but now he faces another spell on the sidelines after pulling up shortly after he was introduced from the bench.
It’s a bitter blow for the Costa Rican international but he can count on the support of Patrick and his squad in the coming weeks as he begins another period of rehabilitation.
Vieira said: “I feel really sorry for him because he’s been working hard to come back. We’re going to support him because he’s really important to us. He will go through this difficult period with our support.”
We’ll let you know the prognosis on the injury here on NYCFC.com in the coming days.
Back to Front
They were well-taken goals, but the stoutness of NYCFC’s defensive play was equally as impressive as what happened at the shiny end of the field.
Sean Johnson has only faced 11 shots on frame so far in 2018 – an average of 3.6 per game, which suggests a real steeliness to City’s approach.
From back to front, NYCFC have defended as a unit, pressing in orchestrated movements and working tirelessly when out of possession. It’s still early days but there is a pleasing dynamism to this NYCFC side 270 minutes into the year…