New York City Football Club Goals: Callens 66', Talles Magno 81'
Orlando City SC Goals: Torres 47'
New York City Football Club secured home field advantage in the 2022 MLS Playoffs with a superb comeback win over Orlando City. Alex Callens' third goal in as many games and a late Talles Magno strike canceled out Facundo Torres' opener at Red Bull Arena. Our third successive victory in all competitions lifted Nick Cushing's side to third in the Eastern Conference, and cemented a place in the top four to ensure the reigning MLS Cup Champions will kick-off our defense of the trophy on home soil.
The Boys in Blue headed into the game having already clinched qualification for the post-season tournament for the seventh successive year, following Chicago Fire’s 3-2 win at Cincinnati, while Orlando were also eyeing a top-four finish.
Having revealed on Friday the squad are nearing full strength, Interim Head Coach Cushing named an unchanged side to the one that triumphed in the Hudson River Derby before the international break, with Héber returning to the bench following his hamstring injury.
With both sides desperate for the points, there was a real tempo to the early exchanges. In the game’s first real chance, Talles Magno dragged wide from Gabriel Pereira’s cut-back from the edge of the box after Maxi Moralez lofted forward.
Two minutes later, the hosts had the ball in the net – only for the offside flag to deny Tayvon Gray his first MLS goal, with Santiago Rodríguez stretching to ensure the ball crossed the line at the backpost.
Talles Magno and Callens then headed off-target, while Sean Johnson had to be alert at the other end to claim Torres’ through-ball with Júnior Urso lurking.
The opening 45 proved a stop-start affair with injuries to both sides, and drew to a close with Torres’ deflected strike into the side-netting as the last major action of the half.
The visitors would break the deadlock a minute into the second half though, courtesy of a long-throw. Cesar Araujo's looping delivery was nodded across goal by Ercan Kara and Torres was quickest to react, converting from close range.
Pereira went in search of an instant response with a driving run and powerful effort, which whistled just over the bar, and Cushing made a double change before the break, introducing Anton Tinnerholm and Keaton Parks.
As the home side stepped up a gear to press forward for a leveler, Orlando threatened on the counter-attack as Kara attempted an ambitious acrobatic effort and then smashed wide.
Parks almost made an immediate impact, unleashing a bouncing effort from distance which Pedro Gallese could only parry into Callens' path, but the Campeones Cup and Hudson River Derby hero blazed the rebound high.
The Orlando shot-stopper then produced his best to deny Rodríguez from point-blank range but could not prevent Callens from continuing his impressive scoring streak, as the Defender slid home Talles Magno's cross from two yards out after Parks had done well to keep the ball alive on the edge of the area.
As both sides chased a precious winner, Maxime Chanot produced an excellent block to thwart Torres, and New York turned the game on its head within minutes.
Once again, Moralez was involved, clipping a delightful ball into the path of Pereira, who in turn played an inch-perfect through-ball for Talles Magno to run onto and drill across the goalkeeper to spark jubilant scenes with just nine minutes of normal time remaining.
Héber had the chance to seal the points late on but fired straight at Gallese, though two would be enough to extend City's winning streak and clinch that all-important home field advantage in the Playoffs.
Player of the Match
How We Lined Up
New York City wrap up the MLS regular season with a trip to Atlanta on Sunday, 9 October at 2:30PM ET before our MLS Cup defense begins in mid-October. (ESPN+,YES Network,YES App,NYCFC.com/Radio)