New York City FC returned to the Bronx on Thursday after a long four-match road campaign for a first-ever meeting with FC Cincinnati.
For NYCFC, the night of firsts was just beginning... The match finished 5-2 but NYCFC scored all seven goals - as noted in the MLS recap...
MLSsoccer.com's Ian Quillen reported, "Before Thursday night, six teams in MLS had conceded multiple own goals in a single game, including two this season. None emerged with a victory.
"New York City FC changed all that, becoming the first to concede two own goals and win in their 5-2 victory over FC Cincinnati, a game they led by multiple goals for the final 73 minutes despite seeing Héber and Sebastien Ibeagha turn the ball into their own net.
"Héber also became the first player in MLS to score a brace while also being credited with an own goal. He was the 14th player in league history to score on both ends in a single game."
That is quite a feat to overcome...
The five goals, intentionally, scored by NYCFC were spectacular for the young club. The powerful offensive line made all the difference for the City, allowing them to extend their unbeaten streak and bring yet another win to the BX.
NYCFC's Starting XI was packed with power, regardless of being without four players reporting to International duty. Dome Torrent made some changes to his game plan, which paid off in the end.
According to Hudson River Blue's Christian A. Smith, "Defense wins championships” is one of the oldest and most prevalent adages in sports. But “the best defense is a good offense” is one that has gained steam as the offensive output and athleticism — no matter the sport — has continued to grow exponentially in the past two decades or so.
"New York City FC’s home matchup against expansion side FC Cincinnati the past Thursday was a good example of that.
"Shifting away from the 3-4-3 that the team had utilized — with success — for over a month, manager Dome Torrent decided to get a bit unorthodox. In a surprise decision, the Catalan manager reverted back to City’s more traditional 4-3-3.
"To break it down further; instead of sticking with the 3-4-3 and replacing the absent Ebenezer Ofori with another midfielder, Dome elected to field a more offensively potent squad the featured Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi attacking-minded center midfielders with Alexander Ring as the sole defensive pivot a 4-3-3.
"Because of the sheer numbers they are committing forward — and the players involved — NYCFC’s attack that consists of anywhere from five to seven players at a time easily overwhelms Cincinnati’s defensive line.
"Of the 20 shots City took on Thursday, 9 of them were on target. And of those 9 shots, 5 of them were goals. That means that the team had a 55% conversion rate when the shot was in between the pipes.
"I’m not going to argue with a nine-game unbeaten streak and the success that we saw with the 3-4-3. It obviously works when the club has all hands on deck. But with this new attacking 4-3-3 we saw, there is an argument to be made that this should not just be a one-off.
"Furthermore, the offense this season has been extremely hard to pick. Let’s list them off:
- Héber - 6 goals, 3 assists
- Ismael Tajouri-Shradi - 4 goals, 2 assists
- Alexandru Mitriță - 4 goals, 1 assist
- Maxi Moralez - 3 goals, 9 assists
- Taty Castellanos - 3 goals, 2 assists
"How can you only select three of those five players to play in each game? I get that it’s always important to have some offensive firepower come off the bench, but jeez... that’s five players with at least three goals on the season."
Although the offense showed out on Thursday, there is something to be said about NYCFC's solid defensive line. Torrent has found solace in having options in the backline with players like James Sands, Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Anton Tinnerholm, Ben Sweat and Ronald Matarrita to choose from.
A defender that has started for the City in every match this season, seeing it through start to finish, is Maxime Chanot. The man that Torrent often refers to as "co-captain," has impressed everybody with his ability to keep goals from getting past him.
ESPN's Kristian Dyer also took notice, "Now in his fourth season in MLS, Chanot has become a constant at the club -- even serving as captain last year when Villa was injured -- and his emergence this season as one of the league's best center-backs has helped propel NYCFC in recent weeks.
"A team once known for fielding stars is now effectively navigating MLS via its back line, and the Luxembourg international is the centerpiece of a very solid defensive group. It's working, too: New York City's 15 goals conceded are the fourth fewest in the league.
"Familiarity has been a key component to that success, with Chanot and central defensive partner Alexander Callens now in their third season together. Their understanding is paving the way: NYCFC is unbeaten in its past nine games and has conceded just seven goals in that span.
"When asked about his form, Chanot is quick to credit his teammates and the stability of the back line, but he also talks about how MLS has forced him to become a more complete player, growing beyond simply man-marking and winning balls.
"Chanot embraces the idea that Major League Soccer has aided his development as a player. Having played in the first or second divisions in England, France and Belgium prior to his move to the U.S., Chanot points to MLS as the place where he began to grow beyond simply defending.
"'At this club, we like to play out of the back. You need to not only be a good defender but be a good attacker, if I can say, with the ball,' Chanot said. "It's a little bit tougher than over in Europe, because in Europe, I only focused on my defending side. In New York, we have to do both. I'm happy to play the game the way we do in New York, and it makes me improve myself.'
"Chanot also feels "at home" with this club, turning down offers from Europe to stay in MLS.
"'It was a move forward for me, from Belgium to MLS,' Chanot said. 'I am very happy with this league, with the way that I've grown.'"
The team's win on Thursday, gave them some edge going into the Open Cup this week. With the season-best unbeaten streak alive and well, the first-ever meeting with FC Cincinnati, and the first team to prevail after two own goals - you would think that would be all for the firsts, right? Eh, we've got just one more...
Pep Guardiola was at Yankee Stadium on Thursday to support the team and his old friend, Torrent.
"He's one of the sharpest minds in world soccer history, a serial winner with upwards of two dozen trophies to his name and the leader of the reigning English Premier League champions. And on Thursday night he paid a visit to New York City FC.
"Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola stopped by Yankee Stadium to take in NYCFC's 5-2 thrashing of FC Cincinnati, sitting alongside the club's sporting director Claudio Reyna, and afterwards visited the home team's locker room to congratulate the squad.
"Pep is a longtime friend and colleague of NYCFC boss Dome Torrent, who served as his right-hand man for many years across several clubs before crossing the Atlantic to take the helm of Man City's MLS sibling club."
That's all for now, stay tuned as we keep you updated on everything NYCFC! Until then make sure to get your game day tickets, #ForTheCity!