Eirik Johansen has had to be patient for his first taste of Major League Soccer but it was certainly worth the wait.
The Norwegian goalkeeper has acted as understudy to Josh Saunders throughout the 2016 campaign but, following an excellent performance against Club Necaxa last month, Patrick Vieira finally gave Eirik the call.
He repaid the faith almost immediately, making a stunning fingertip save from Hector Jiminez to prevent Columbus Crew SC from taking a fourth-minute lead.
NYCFC went on to win by a three-goal margin but, without that stop, it could have been a very different story.
For Johansen, it was a save which enabled his confidence to soar.
Eirik told NYCFC.com: “I haven’t seen through too many of the clips yet but to get the start with the first save down to my left was good.
“When you haven’t played in a long time regularly, you can be a bit edgy because obviously you want to go out and impress. Sometimes that leads to you chasing the game which can lead to bad decisions and mistakes.
“That save settled me down early into the game and then it was good. On a personal note, it was a pretty decent game for me.”
Signing from Manchester City FC in March 2015, Johansen spent time on loan at Wilmington Hammerheads last year before returning to his parent club where he made his competitive debut against New York Cosmos in the US Open Cup.
Since then, the 24-year old has been working hard in training in an attempt to earn a starting spot which Vieira meted out for this final regular season game.
Eirik did his prospects of retaining his place for the Playoffs no harm at all in the 4-1 victory, making a string of saves throughout the 90 to see NYCFC into the Eastern Conference semifinals.
NYCFC 4-1 Columbus Crew: Highlights
“I’ve waited a long time for this – for me, I like to go about my business, keep my head down and work hard to prove I’m worth the shot,” Johansen explained.
“I think I took my opportunity in the friendly in Mexico which I think gave Patrick faith to put me in for this very important game.
“We knew it was going to be really difficult because they’re a team who really try to play and that means it can go one of two ways.
“We’ve had some rough going against direct teams, so maybe this suited us a bit more on this occasion, although they’re a very good team with players of good quality.”
Johansen has no preference on opponents for the Eastern Conference semifinals next weekend, stating that whoever NYCFC face, it will be a tough game.
He added: “It’s going to be difficult either way now we’re in the playoffs. It’s a cup game – win or you’re out. As soon as that’s the format it’s completely different than a league game.”