New England Revolution II Goals: Adebayo-Smith 24', Esmir Bajraktarevic 89'
New York City II Goals: Johnny Denis 43’
New York City II kicked off the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season with trip to New England Revolution. Johnny Denis' superb first-half free-kick had canceled out Jordan Adebayo-Smith's opener, but Esmir Bajraktarevic struck on 89' to snatch victory for the hosts at Gillette Stadium.
The clash marked the City Boys’ season opener but Matchday Two of the new MLS Next Pro campaign for New England, who had claimed a 3-2 win on the opening day at Atlanta United.
Last season’s three meetings between the two sides had proven entertaining affairs. City emerged victorious in two – a penalty shoot-out win, and impressive 4-0 triumph, in which Denis bagged four.
NYCFC II Head Coach Matt Pilkington named a strong side for the latest trip to Massachusetts, and the visitors started brightly, dominating the opening 45, and recording 11 shots to the hosts’ one.
However, New England's solitary chance would prove a fruitful one, as the two sides headed into half-time level at 1-1.
Piero Elias, Nico Benalcazar, Mathew Myers and Denis had all gone close for the Boys in Blue, finding Revs shot-stopper Nico Campuzano in impressive form, before Adebayo-Smith broke the deadlock completely against the run of play.
A sweeping cross-field pass on the counter-attack found Marcos Dias on the right flank, and the Brazilian squared for Adebayo-Smith to tap home from close range.
City responded well to the setback and forced a leveler two minutes before the break, courtesy of a set-piece.
Jack Beer won a free-kick on the edge of the area, and specialist Denis stepped up to continue his excellent record at the Gillette Stadium, curling a delightful effort into the top corner for City’s first of the campaign.
NYCFC continued to carve good opportunities in the second period, while New England also increased their attacking threat on the counter.
Stevo Bednarsky fired off-target and Beer crafted several promising opportunities, before Denis and Jonathan Jiménez both struck the woodwork in quick succession, as the visitors came inches away from a winner.
At the other end, substitute Weverton smashed wide in response, after Alex Rando had denied Dias, and Adebayo-Smith had fired over.
Just as it looked as though the game would head to a penalty shoot-out, the home side snatched victory in the final minute of normal time, when Malcolm Fry latched onto Peyton Miller's crossfield pass and fed Bajraktarevic, who poked into the far corner to steal the points.
A cruel finish for Pilkington's side, who produced a positive performance but were simply left to rue missed chances and hard luck in front of goal.
How We Lined Up
NYCFC II's first home game of 2023 sees the Boys in Blue welcome Atlanta United to Belson Stadium on Sunday, April 9 at 7:30pm.
Watch live at MLSNEXTPro.com and follow our official @NYCFCII Twitter page for updates.
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