RSL Goals: Rusnak 37mins, Maund 50mins
NYCFC Goals: Okoli 3mins
A Quick Look…
New York City FC’s wait for a first win over Real Salt Lake goes on following a disappointing 2-1 defeat.
Sean Okoli gave the visitors a perfect start with a third-minute opener but that was as good as it got for a much-changed NYCFC as goals on either side of halftime from Albert Rusnak and Aaron Maund snapped RSL’s four-game losing streak.
NYCFC are now 5-4-2 through 11.
A heavily-rotated NYCFC XI took to the field at a bitterly cold Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night seeking to continue their excellent recent road form.
Sandwiched between trips to Dallas and Orlando, Patrick Vieira made five changes to the XI for this game against struggling Real Salt Lake to take a check on the depth chart in his squad.
He would have been pleased with what he found in the early going as his fresh XI took the lead inside three minutes through one of those players rotated in.
Sean Okoli proved why Vieira believes he is the man capable of deputizing for David Villa as he seized upon an errant RSL pass, held off a defender and embarked on a strong run through the defense before firing across the goalkeeper into the corner as he fell.
It was a perfect start for the boys in blue which sapped the energy out of a home crowd who had seen just one win in nine games in Utah and their misery was further compounded by a sleet storm which began almost immediately after the goal.
They almost had cause for some rare home cheer on 18’ when Sean Johnson spilled a long range shot but the goalkeeper reacted well, springing back to life and smothering the rebound.
That opportunity heralded an improved spell from the hosts where they began to ask questions of the NYCFC defense but the shooting was wayward until 37’ when Rusnak equalized with a bolt from the blue.
The Slovakian former Man City youth player picked it up at the top of the box and fired through Frederic Brillant’s legs, leaving Johnson grasping for air as the ball ripped into the corner.
Just five minutes into the second period, Maund met a Salt Lake corner with an emphatic header which put Mike Petke’s side in the driving seat for the first time on the night at 2-1.
Vieira immediately sent for reinforcements in the shape of David Villa and Jack Harrison and their impact was almost immediate as the latter teed up the former for a shot which brought out the best of Nick Rimando in the RSL goal.
John Stertzer, back on his old home turf, was introduced as the final roll of the dice with 20 minutes remaining but NYCFC never really threatened to equalize in the remaining minutes of a disappointing night.
Onwards to Orlando…
NYCFC offered little after Maund’s goal which put RSL ahead but their one good chance did fall to the man they would have wanted it to.
To be fair to Villa, the angle was against him after he was played through by Harrison and all he could really do was put his foot through the ball and hope for the best.
Sadly, Rimando stood up and blocked El Guaje’s thunderous hit.
Man of the Match…
On the night he scored his first MLS goal, Okoli hinted that he is more than capable of playing at this level.
Sean has only been seen in one other start at Columbus and in fleeting cameos as a substitute, but this was his most impressive showing to date as he put in a proper no.9’s shift, holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into play.
Social Post of the Game…
Stats and Milestones…
- Miguel Camargo started his first game for NYCFC
- Ugo Okoli scored his first goal for NYCFC and his first MLS goal
- NYCFC were beaten for the first time in three games (2W, 1D)
- Real Salt Lake have beaten NYCFC in all three meetings between the teams
- John Stertzer played against his former team for the first time
- RSL snapped a four-game losing streak
How They Lined Up…
Patrick Vieira shuffled his pack for the second of three back-to-back road games.
Miguel Camargo made his first start of the season on the wing in place of Jack Harrison, while Sean Okoli, RJ Allen and Frederic Brillant made just their second starts of 2017.
Andrea Pirlo also came back into the team for the first time since the 2-1 defeat to Orlando City on April 23.
Elsewhere, McNamara, who captained NYCFC in David Villa’s absence, started in a wide berth on the opposite flank to Camargo with Maxi Moralez and Alex Ring retained in the center of midfield.
NYCFC are next in action in the final game of this three-game road trip away at Orlando City on Sunday evening.