Columbus Goals: Higuain 29mins, Kamara 50mins
NYCFC Goals: Harrison 7mins & 76mins, Herrera 64mins
A Quick Look…
Missing the stricken skipper David Villa, Jack Harrison scored twice, helping NYCFC to rally from a goal down to defeat Columbus Crew in a topsy-turvy five-goal thriller. Goals from Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara on either side of halftime had cancelled out Jack's early strike but Herrera came up big with a brave header to level before Harrison netted the decisive fifth, meaning NYCFC are now 4-3-1 through eight games.
Columbus Crew SC were unbeaten at Mapfre Stadium in 2017 and had never lost to NYCFC on home soil going into this Saturday night showdown.
With an average of 4.6 goals being scored per game in the history of this rivalry, it was never going to be a goalless bore draw and Harrison certainly made sure of that just seven minutes in.
The ball inside the Crew full-back from Maxi Moralez was gorgeous and the finish from Jack was even better as the Englishman chipped sublimely over the onrushing Zack Steffen.
Head Coach Patrick Vieira had spoken of the importance of giving fans a reaction to the disappointing defeat to Orlando City last time out and, on the early evidence, that message had clearly gotten through to the boys in blue.
However, despite the early notch, NYCFC were soaking up more opposition possession than they’ve been used to in recent weeks and they were indebted to goalkeeper Sean Johnson for keeping their noses in front on 23’ when he made a fine double save.
Ethan White was next to come to his side’s rescue a couple of minutes later when he recovered to produce an outstanding last ditch tackle when the dangerous Justin Meram was baring down on goal and ready to pull the trigger.
Eventually, the Columbus pressure did tell, and home side levelled through Federico Higuain’s stunning volley which left the goalkeeper with no chance.
Chances for Vieira’s men to double their tally were few and far between in the remaining minutes of the half but Sean Okoli did advertise his threat with a towering header from a Harrison cross which flew inches past the post.
Following a strong end to the first half, NYCFC found themselves behind for the first time five minutes into the second period as Kamara pounced upon a trip from Alexander Callens and swept past Johnson.
Chasing the game, the boys in blue put up another strong response to a concession and began asserting sustained pressure on the Columbus goal which eventually garnered the game-tieing goal from Herrera.
Sweat's cross was excellent, allowing the young Venezuelan to guide his header past Steffen's despairing dive into the bottom corner.
They weren't finished there either, as Herrera and Harrison came up big once again to clinch all three points as Yangel pickpocketed the last defender before Jack tapped home the loose ball from close range.
It was the perfect end to a hugely impressive night for NYCFC as they won in adversity, without their captain, at one of the league's toughest venues.
NYCFC showed great character to recover from the setback of going behind to Kamara's goal.
The momentum shift in the game was clear as Vieira's men refused to roll over and kept piling forward, ensuring they received their just rewards when Herrera crashed home his first career MLS goal.
Rising highest to meet Sweat's in-swinging cross, Yangel went in where it hurt and needed treatment after he collided with Jukka Raitala but scored in the process.
A great goal created by two men making their first-ever MLS starts which paved the way for Harrison's winner.
Man of the Match…
NYCFC’s newest DP has enjoyed a good start to life in blue but this was his most effective performance for the team so far.
The Argentine playmaker created the opening goal but there was even more to his performance than that as he flitted mischievously between the lines, prying and prodding for weak spots in the Columbus defense.
Without Villa and without Andrea Pirlo in the XI, Moralez really took on the mantle as the senior man in the attacking third, dictating the whole game for his team.
Social Post of the Game…
I've got a good feeling about this @Harrison_Jack11 kid. A little seasoning and he could be a pretty good footballer. 😉— NY is BLUE (@NYisBLUE) April 29, 2017
Stats and Milestones…
- Sean Okoli made his first start since joining from Cincinnati in the offseason.
- Yangel Herrera made his first start since signing on loan from Man City, scored his first goal and notched his first assist.
- Ben Sweat made his NYCFC debut at Columbus who drafted him in 2014 and completed his first assist, setting up Herrera's goal.
- Jack Harrison scored his third and fourth goals of the 2017 season.
- Maxi Moralez made his fourth assist of the season for Harrison’s seventh-minute goal.
- Justin Meram has now recorded a goal or an assist in every home match this season through five matches.
- NYCFC won at the Mapfre Stadium for the first time in four visits.
- Vieira's men have beaten Columbus Crew in back-to-back games for the first time.
- NYCFC string together two straight road wins for the first time since summer 2016.
How They Lined Up…
NYCFC XI: Johnson, White, Chanot (C), Callens, Sweat, Ring, Herrera, Moralez, Harrison, Wallace, Okoli
David Villa missed the showdown with Columbus Crew SC through illness.
The 35-year old was omitted from the squad for the first time since he was suspended in June 2016, meaning reigning USL MVP Sean Okoli made his first NYCFC start.
Villa travelled to Columbus despite his illness and came close to making the 18 but narrowly missed out and will stay in the team hotel to continue his recovery.
That was one of three changes to the NYCFC lineup which went down 2-1 to Orlando at Yankee Stadium, as Yangel Herrera came in for his first start and Ben Sweat debuted in place of the injured Ronald Matarrita.
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