NYCFC Goal/s: Villa 49mins
Sporting KC Goal/s:
NYCFC signed off on preseason with a deserved 1-0 victory over Sporting KC in Tucson.
In what was the final dress rehearsal for Orlando, David Villa opened the scoring with a powerful header four minutes into the second half before Sean Johnson came to NYCFC’s rescue with a stunning penalty save on the hour.
That was enough to give NYCFC their first win at the Desert Diamond Cup in Arizona and provided the perfect springboard into the team’s third MLS campaign.
Head Coach Patrick Vieira handed first minutes to Yangel Herrera, Alex Ring and Rodney Wallace and this new-look line-up certainly shaped up well in the early running, creating the first meaningful chance of the game – a Maxime Chanot header saved on the line by Tim Melia on 16’.
Vieira’s men were taking a stranglehold of the game as the first half wore on and they were close once again to breaking the deadlock 10 minutes before the interval when Maxi Moralez’s delightful dink over the defense only narrowly evaded Villa’s acrobatic leap.
El Guaje saw another effort deflect narrowly wide, Herrera’s header from the subsequent corner only just went over the crossbar and Maxi Moralez volleyed a fraction past the post in the dying embers of a hugely encouraging but goalless first half for NYCFC.
It would only remain scoreless for four second-half minutes as the pressure finally told on the Kansas City defense and who else would score it but the captain?
Alex Callens and Jack Harrison combined to sublime effect down the left before Moralez sent in a glorious cross which was gleefully seized upon by the head of Villa who sent it low into the ground and past the ‘keeper.
NYCFC’s narrow lead was put into real peril when Benny Feilhaber was fouled in the box by Matarrita on 62’ but Johnson came to his team’s rescue with a brilliant penalty save from Soony Saad, diving to his right and shoveling the ball out of the bottom corner.
Substitute Miguel Camargo was close to his first goal with 20 minutes remaining after Villa set him free on a rapid counter-attack but he hooked his strike wide when clean through.
A bad day for the man who missed the Sporting penalty became even worse on 82’ when Saad was shown a straight red card for an ugly foul on James Sands, meaning it would end 1-0 which, on the balance of play, was a fair reflection on the action.
The opening goal finally arrived on 49’ when Maxi provided his first (and surely not his last) assist for the skipper.
The team’s newest DP already demonstrated just how much he can bring to NYCFC in 2017 against Houston Dynamo and this was another mouthwatering run-out from the Argentine.
His cross for Villa’s goal was inch perfect but was just one of many technically proficient touches the Argentine made in his second preseason game.
David is sure going to enjoy what Moralez can bring to this team…
Man of the Match
As far as first impressions go, Ring couldn’t have done much more to whet appetites for what is to come from him.
The Finnish international has all of the ingredients to make him a firm favorite with New Yorkers as he provided exceptional coverage of the center of the pitch, carrying the water between Herrera and Moralez in the no.8 role.
Ring also snapped into tackles with real gusto and showed that he can weight his passes perfectly during his time on the field and will have given his Head Coach plenty to smile about going into the opening game of the Regular Season.
How They Lined Up…
NYCFC XI: Johnson, Allen, Chanot, Callens, Matarrita, Herrera, Ring, Moralez, Harrison, Wallace, Villa (C)
Vieira made 11 changes to the team which lost 1-0 against Colorado Rapids last time out, fielding a team which is surely not far away from the one which will take to the field against Orlando in eight days.
A front three of Wallace, Villa and Harrison were supported by Moralez, Ring and Herrera, with Callens and Chanot partnering up at the back in between Allen and Matarrita.
Miguel Camargo and James Sands both came in as second half substitutes.
No more friendlies! The MLS Regular Season begins on Sunday, March 5 when NYCFC travel to Florida to take on Orlando City.
Bring. It. On.