It was a day for the no.1s at Yankee Stadium as NYCFC played out a goalless draw vs. D.C. United on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s Five Points from the opening 90’ in the BX…
Two games, two points for NYCFC through tests vs. Orlando and D.C. in 2019.
24,000+ were present inside the stadium for the first home match of Season 5 and despite the lack of goals, the crowd was treated to an even and exciting matchup vs. Ben Olsen’s side.
Head Coach Dome Torrent felt as though both teams had solid cases to say that they deserved all three points, meaning a draw was probably the fair result on the balance of play.
Per Torrent: "It was a tie game. And both teams deserve to maybe win the game. And the result is fair for both teams. But it’s not a good result for us because when you play in the Yankee Stadium you have to win the game.”
D.C. definitely started out on the front foot for the open 15’, but Dome would’ve been encouraged by the way his charges grew into the game and took control of the ball, especially after the break when NYCFC were in the ascendancy.
However, both goalkeepers were in no mood to give up clean sheets…
Tale of Two GKs
The embrace between Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson at full-time spoke volumes on the mutual respect shared between New York and D.C.’s last lines of defense.
Both ‘keepers stood on their heads across the 90’ to repel shots that on other days would’ve been goals, frustrating those on the sharp ends of the field time after time.
Johnson’s best save came from Luciano Acosta in the first half, as he somehow managed to both block and turn wide a strike which looked destined for the back of the net.
He wasn’t finished there, producing yet more brilliant saves on either side of the interval to secure his first clean sheet of the season.
At the other end, Alex Ring will have thought he’d done enough to secure all three points with his late diving header but there was Hamid to make the stop, drawing an audible gasp from those inside Yankee Stadium.
Sands of Time
It was yet another great outing for 18-year old James Sands, who kept his place in the XI after completing all 18 of his passes vs. Orlando on the opening day.
This performance from the U.S. youth international was even better, as he put his foot in decisively to win back possession for his team and used the ball with a wisdom and maturity beyond his years.
Dome was impressed, too, telling reporters: “Jimmy is our future. I am sure. He played amazing for me today. He's in control all the time. He’s a clever player for us... For Jimmy and these players, it’s never you are too young to play soccer. Never. It depends on the quality."
The numbers also backed up that James had a very fine outing: James won a game-high 10 duels and recovered the ball seven times over the course of the 90’.
We already knew Sands could pass the football beautifully over a range of distances, but this performance, against a talented, fleet-footed D.C., showed he can also mix it physically vs. players vastly more experienced.
It’s never easy to come into a new team and a new league and hit the ground running from the jump, but Alexandru Mitriță has been impressive in both of his appearances to date in City blue.
The Romanian was arguably City’s most dangerous attacking player vs. D.C. finding pockets of space between the D.C. lines, linking up with Maxi Moralez well and showing his willingness to take defenders on in one-v-ones.
Mitriță almost came up with the winning goal, too, with a dangerous, swirling free-kick which Hamid could only beat away with his fists.
Alexandru will only get better with more time and more sessions with his new teammates but this was another exciting signpost of what he can bring to this NYCFC team in 2019.
Given our record in the Bronx over the last couple of seasons, any occasion where we don’t take all three points at Yankee Stadium will feel disappointing but there were encouraging signs here.
With a younger squad than in previous seasons, it may take time for us to be firing on all cylinders but there were clear signs of progress from Orlando and strong foundations to build on when LAFC come to town next weekend.
It promises to be another good early test for this growing team, and we’ll be ready to do it all again at the same time, same place next Sunday, going for our first three points of the season.