Colorado Goal/s: Cronin 45mins
A young NYCFC side went down to a 1-0 friendly defeat to Colorado Rapids in Tucson.
In the penultimate preseason game, Colorado captain Sam Cronin scored the only goal with the final touch of a cagey, largely uneventful first half.
The opening 20 minutes of the game were low-key in tone as the two sides failed to unpick stout defensive units despite neat build-up play but Rapids’ striker Kevin Doyle fired off a warning shot from range after 21’ which caught a deflection and shaved the outside of the post.
Rapids perhaps should have taken the lead on 35’ when Dominique Badji arrived onto a deep cross at the back post but he couldn’t bring his effort under the crossbar, much to NYCFC’s relief.
Five minutes later, captain Tommy McNamara forced Zac MacMath into his first save of the evening, unleashing a typically precise dipping strike from the edge of the box which was destined for the upper 90 until the goalkeeper’s intervention.
Aside from a few flashes of brilliance, the two teams were canceling each other out and we looked destined to be scoreless until the interval – that was until the last kick of the first half when Cronin volleyed into the bottom corner from just inside the NYCFC 18.
Miguel Camargo got his first minutes in an NYCFC jersey, entering the game as a 55th-minute substitute in place of Jalen Brown and the Panamanian certainly showcased his dazzling footwork.
Like the first half, the second yielded precious few goalscoring chances apart from a well-struck Andrea Pirlo free-kick which worked the goalkeeper and an Okoli effort which went well over the top of the crossbar.
Despite this lack of gilt-edged opportunities to score, Vieira will have been pleased with a much-improved second half performance which saw his team work through the phases and break the lines of the Colorado midfield and defense on a number of occasions.
Just the final ball was missing but, with a final friendly to come on Saturday where we’re likely to get a few clues on Vieira’s XI for Orlando on March 5, there is no cause for alarm.
90 minutes until first kick…
NYCFC were tight in defense throughout the game but they were perhaps guilty of failing to clear their lines fully for the opening goal in the 45th minute.
The defending team had at least one chance to play it of harm’s way but when they finally managed to, the ball only fell invitingly for the Colorado skipper to let go his decisive strike.
To give Cronin full credit, it was an excellent volley and proved to be the perfect time for Colorado to score right on the stroke of half-time.
Man of the Match
The French defender came up big on a number of occasions for NYCFC to prevent Colorado from scoring more than their one goal.
In the first half, he made two perfectly-timed slide tackles at full stretch to deny the opposition and he made a telling block in the second period which stopped the Rapids from going up 2-0.
In addition to this, Fred was a vocal presence throughout his time on the field, demonstrating all of his experience to help guide the young members of the backline around him through the game.
How They Lined Up…
NYCFC XI: Johansen, Gomez, Brillant, Sweat, Awuah, Pirlo, Stertzer, McNamara, Shelton, Brown, Okoli
Vieira lined up his team in their traditional 4-3-3 shape, with Ugo Okoli spearheading an attack in the absence of the suspended David Villa and McNamara, Shelton and Brown fielded the three in behind.
Andrea Pirlo anchored the midfield, while Awuah and Gomez started as full-backs on either side of Sweat and Brillant behind Pirlo and Stertzer.
Camargo, Sands, Wingate and White were all introduced as a second-half substitutes.
NYCFC are back in action on Saturday when they take on Sporting Kansas City at 5:30pm ET in their final preseason game before the big MLS kick-off on March 5.