New York City Football Club II Goals: Johnny Denis (p) 77'
Crown Legacy FC Goals: Nikola Petkovic 12', Iuri Tavares 36', Nuno Santos 66', Josué Rodrigues 87'
New York City Football Club II suffered a second defeat of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season, falling to a 4-1 reverse at home to Crown Legacy FC.
Johnny Denis was on the scoresheet for the Boys in Blue from the penalty spot, but goals from Nikola Petkovic, Iuri Tavares, Nuno Santos and Josué Rodrigues clinched victory for the Eastern Conference leaders on a rain-soaked night at Belson Stadium, which also saw Rio Hope-Gund sent-off on the quarter-hour.
The clash marked the first meeting between the two sides. Having produced an impressive start to their inaugural campaign, the North Carolina outfit had climbed to top spot with four wins and a tie from their opening five games, while the City Boys had also started well with two wins, a draw and one defeat.
NYCFC Head Coach Matt Pilkington made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Orlando City SC B last time out, switching up the Blues' backline.
As the rain lashed down in Queens, the match suffered a two-hour delay to kick-off with the groundstaff working tirelessly to ensure the fixture could go ahead.
The visitors adapted more quickly to challenging conditions, mounting a flurry of early pressure.
After forcing Alex Rando into a smart stop within a minute through Santos, the away side opening the scoring just 10 minutes later when Petkovic collected a set-piece and drilled a cross-shot goalward, which skidded off the slippery turf and squirmed into the back of the net.
The home side responded well, and went in search of a quickfire equalizer, as Denis stung the palms of Isaac Walker with a curling effort, before Matthew Myers fired off-target.
City’s task was made all the more difficult when the hosts were reduced to 10 men after just 15 minutes, with Hope-Gund dismissed for denial of a goalscoring opportunity, upending Vinicius Mello.
The Boys in Blue would not let their heads drop however, and came within a whisker of a leveler when Denis crashed a trademark free-kick off the crossbar, and saw another set-piece parried away.
With Pilkington’s side chasing a route back into the clash, Charlotte continued to threaten. Mello and Santos both went close, and after seeing another goal ruled out for offside, the visitors net their second when Petkovic turned provider, slipping in Tavares who rounded Rando to convert on 36'.
Desperate to keep NYCFC in the game, Denis tested Walker once more, and Jack Beer headed wide, but Crown Legacy took a strong lead into the break.
The away side picked up where they left off after the restart with Mello proving a constant threat. Though the forward could not divert a hat-trick of attempts on target, he would craft the assist for Santos to make it 3-0 on 66 minutes, teeing up the midfielder to clip over Rando.
After João Pedro blazed over for the visitors, the City Boys pulled a goal back from the penalty spot when substitute Ronald Arévalo was floored by João Guilherme. Denis made no mistake, firing into the corner for his 11th goal involvement in his last 11 games, but it would prove a consolation.
Crown Legacy would restore their three-goal advantage with a fourth three minutes from time, as Rodrigues marked his 19th birthday with a goal, arrowing low into the corner to cap a memorable win for the visitors.
How We Lined Up
New York City Football Club II are back on home soil, facing New England Revolution II for the second time this season, at Belson Stadium on Saturday, May 6, 2023 in a 5:00pm ET kick-off.
Watch live at MLSNEXTPro.com and follow our official @NYCFCII Twitter page for updates.
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