C.S Emelec 2-2 NYCFC
Emelec Goals: Preciado 41 & 54mins
NYCFC Goals: Okoli 83mins & Stertzer 90+1mins
NYCFC helped open the newly redeveloped Estadio George Capwell with a thrilling 2-2 draw against C.S Emelec.
In the team’s second preseason game, 40,000 euphoric fans descended upon the stadium in central Guayaquil for this prestigious exhibition match and events on the field could hardly fail to disappoint.
Following a stunning firework show and concert, the game kicked off and although it was a friendly in name, the action on the pitch flew in the face of that title from the very start, as both sides ran hard and entered into their 50-50s and aerial duels with gusto.
Ayrton Preciado struck first for Emelec after 41 minutes following a sweeping counter-attack, tapping into the empty net from a clever center with NYCFC defenders caught out of position but, it must be said, NYCFC were down to ten men at the time as James Sands was receiving treatment.
David Villa had the away team’s best chance of the first half in stoppage time but he couldn’t bring his effort from a Tommy McNamara pull back under the crossbar and El Guaje was close again a few minutes after the interval but his shot from a Harrison cross was saved.
It looked like game over when Preciado doubled Emelec’s advantage ten minutes after the restart with a precise finish but Ugo Okoli came off the bench with 30 minutes left on the watch and made a game of it.
Okoli marked his second friendly appearance with his first NYCFC goal, turning and striking from the top of the box and finding the top corner.
Just when it looked as though Emelec were going to hold on for a 2-1 win, up stepped trialist John Stertzer in stoppage time to score the game leveler with a cool finish from close range.
Not that it stopped the amazing home fans from taking their party from the bleachers to the streets…
How They Lined Up
16-year old James Sands lined up at the base of midfield amid a cauldron of noise in Guayaquil, while Alexander Callens made his first start for the club alongside Ethan White at the heart of the back four, flanked by Ronald Matarrita and Maxime Chanot.
A front three of Khiry Shelton, Jack Harrison and David Villa spearheaded the attack, with Tommy McNamara and Andrea Pirlo in behind them.
In line with exhibition match custom, there were a whole host of changes after the interval with Eirik Johansen taking goalkeeper duties at the half, while Ugo Okoli and John Stertzer came in for Villa and Pirlo respectively with 57 minutes played.
Man of the Match
Our new signing from FC Cincinnati certainly made an impact in his 30-minute cameo off the bench, netting a goal which had the Emelec goalkeeper clutching for thin air.
The powerful no.9 has settled straight into life at NYCFC and is already a popular member of the squad with his teammates and his performances on the field will certainly win him new friends among NYCFC’s supporters.
With the confidence of a goal, it’ll be interesting to follow how he fares in Arizona as he competes for the start.
John Stertzer scored his second goal in as many matches with one of the last kicks of the game to give NYCFC the draw, maintaining our unbeaten start to preseason.
Following a few days’ rest back in New York, the team travels to Tucson to compete in the Desert Diamond Cup, kicking off the preseason tournament against Red Bulls on Wednesday, February 15.