New York City FC signed off on the LA chapter of Preseason 2018 on Saturday night with a friendly match vs. LA Galaxy.
Managing Editor Mark Booth picks out five things we learned from the 3-0 defeat...
The game's pivotal moment arrived with 42 minutes on the clock when Ronald Matarrita was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Romain Alessandrini.
Sendings off are rarely seen in friendly matches and usually come when an official has no option but to eject a player for a grievous challenge but this one from the Costa Rican could hardly qualify under that bracket.
Mata appeared to slip as he went in for the ball and brought his foot down so that his studs weren't showing when he made contact - it was a tough challenge but one that would have drawn, at most, a yellow card in a Regular Season match.
Just 24 hours earlier, we'd seen a more measured approach from the officials in the 1-1 tie with LAFC as the referee enforced Bob Bradley into a substitution when Marcos Urena made a more rash challenge on Maxime Chanot than Ronald's on the Galaxy midfielder was.
Friendlies are important moments in seasons for coaches as they look to build chemistry and fitness ahead of a campaign and losing a player for more than half the game meant that the second half took on a distorted, uneven flow, rendering the encounter something of a missed opportunity - not just for NYCFC, but for Galaxy, too.
The Kids are Alright!
All that said, there still were some upsides for Vieira to savor on the night and perhaps the most significant highlights were the performances of the youngest members of the Preseason roster.
David Villa took to Instagram following the game to praise Justin Haak, Vini Lansade, Joe Scally and Tyler Shaver for their performances, not just in this game, but on the training field over the last two weeks.
Haak (16) and Scally (15) both earned flights to Mexico for the friendly vs. Atletico Club de San Luis on the back of their form - a telling sign of the stock Patrick places in the teens.
It was also a good night for a new member of City's GK Union.
Brad Stuver donned the orange for the first time and put in a great showing, pulling off a couple of eye-catching saves from Gio Dos Santos to keep his team in the game.
Brad has settled seamlessly into the group and has shown what a talented goalkeeper he is working alongside Sean Johnson, Andre Rawls and Jeff Caldwell and he brought his pinsharp reflexes and agility to the StubHub Center stage on Saturday night.
The goalkeeper stable at NYCFC looks strong.
Ismael Tajour-Shradi took to the field for the first time for NYCFC and although he didn't get as many opportunities to get on the ball as he would have liked after his team were reduced to ten men, when he did he showed intriguing glimpses of what he can bring.
When David Villa came on with 20 minutes to go, the Spanish striker combined with the former Austria Wien man to nice effect on a couple of occasions, giving a preview of a relationship we hope to see more of in the coming friendlies.
Welcome to the Club!
Finally, this was the first time we got to see the new 2018-19 away kit in action and it was one of the stars of the show.
On a night where the quality of the spectacle was diminished by one decision, at least there was some beauty for the eyes to drink up.
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