New York City FC ran out 2-1 victors over defending champions Toronto FC on Sunday evening.
Here’s Mark Booth with Five Things we learned from an exciting first 90’ of a new era in the BX…
The Perfect Start
Domènec Torrent only had one brief Saturday session with his new team before taking charge of a home encounter with the league’s defending champions.
Since the option to come to New York was first mooted, Torrent has been studying the team and its recent games so he had some familiarity with his charges to pull upon, though it was still a brave decision to take the reins here, mere hours after arriving in the country.
Fortunately, Domè is now building upon the excellent foundations laid by his predecessor Patrick Vieira and he named an unchanged XI from the 1-1 draw with Atlanta last time out, making only minor alterations to the starting positions of the players selected.
Undeservedly trailing at the interval, a spot of motivation was what was required from the new boss at the interval.
Asked by reporters what he said to the players at 0-1 at the halftime break, he revealed: “You are New York City’s club. Never give up.”
It had the desired effect as Jo Inge Berget’s brace turned the tide and thrust City back towards the standings summit.
A good start.
Fear the Beard
Speaking of Berget, this was his most productive game in an NYCFC jersey numerically but don’t be fooled by digits alone, Jo Inge has been an important member of this team for some time now.
A clever player with a first-rate appreciation of space, Berget gets the jump on defenders not because of blistering pace (though he is quick), but because of his football brain and ability to read a defender’s body position or the weight emphasis of their feet, enabling him to reach passes and stretch backlines.
There are few harder working players around than Jo, so it was pleasing to see him get the goals he’s deserved for his work ethic over the past few months.
Which goal did he prefer? In his own words: “The second one felt better... That’s kind of what I’m about, I run and I make the run. Maxi has been giving me those balls all year long and this one I managed to get to the back of the net.”
Release the longboats!
OK, so it wasn’t just motivational words which helped NYCFC to claim the three points: the new Head Coach also made some subtle in-game changes to the tactics which enabled City to take control.
In the first half, Torrent asked his wing-backs to get forward and overlap, whereas after half-time, he pulled them inside, helping to solidify the center of the field, precipitating the domination enjoyed by the Boys in Blue in the second period.
In Marti Perarnau’s Pep Confidential book, Torrent is credited as the man behind many of Pep Guardiola teams’ clever in-game switches and we saw this for the first time for real, in Torrent’s first game as boss.
It was a light touch from Domè but it made all the difference.
This victory extended NYCFC’s unbeaten home record through eight (P8 W7 D1).
It was Torrent’s first experience of life in the technical area at Yankee Stadium and it’s fair to say he enjoyed his evening.
"It’s an amazing atmosphere here,” he said, “The fans are amazing. Our fans support our team all the time, and sometimes that will be the reason why we can win the game.
“You play for your fans. That is the reason why you are involved in the football."
Torrent will get plenty more facetime with his new supporters in the coming weeks, with three back-to-back home games coming up after the trip to Chicago, vs. Red Bulls, Montreal and Columbus – all inside a week!
The only downside on an otherwise perfect day was the loss of David Villa to injury.
With Yangel Herrera, Cedric Hountondji and Ronald Matarrita all on the treatment table, it’s crucial to get the captain back as quickly as possible, but Domè could give no concrete prognosis immediately after the game.
He added: “It’s a bad news for us because he is a key man for our team.
“He has a lot of experience, especially in these type of games. It’s not a good news. I spoke with him and he told me it’s not serious. We are waiting for the doctor. I think it’s not bad, but maybe he needs one or two games.”
We’ll have an update on David’s condition here on NYCFC.com later in the week after tests have been carried out.