New York City FC came out on top in a wild Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 First Leg vs. AD San Carlos.
Here’s Five Points from an historic night in Costa Rica…
Everywhere We Go
You’re never alone when you’ve got New York behind you… last night that was obvious, with a sizeable group of supporters making the 8,000 mile roundtrip to support the Boys in Blue and they certainly made themselves heard.
With chants audible throughout the match broadcast, our fans brought it as much as our players to help announce NYCFC on the continental stage in dreamy fashion.
We go again next Wednesday, For The City.
Whichever way Thursday night went, it was sure to be a night anyone associated with NYCFC would always remember, given that it was the Club’s first-ever match in international competition.
However, few were predicting such an impressive display of attacking football so early in the season, with the players still adapting to their new Head Coach’s methods and gaining match fitness.
Continuity in the First Team squad undoubtedly helped, with the XI comprised entirely of returning players from City’s Eastern Conference topping 2019, and that familiarity was clearly evident in the opening 35’ which saw the road team roar into a two-goal lead.
Deila was delighted, remarking: “I’m proud of the boys, they did a very good job today. The first 35 minutes was excellent, we played good football, we created chances and we were good defensively.”
“I’d rather win 5-4 than 1-0” said Head Coach Ronny Deila when he took his new role in January. By that token, 5-3 must have been even more pleasing, especially in an away Champions League game.
Despite the win, Deila was disappointed to give up two goals in the second half in a match which his team dominated and will be working on tightening things up ahead of the second leg and City's MLS opener vs. Columbus the weekend after.
That said, five away goals and a two-goal winning margin gives NYCFC a great opportunity to advance to the last eight but Deila will be warning his players that it’s only halftime in the tie, with another 90’ to come next Wednesday.
It’s safe to say that Héber took no time at all to shake off any offseason rust, netting the first hat-trick scored by an MLS player in this Champions League format (since 2008).
It was the fourth hat-trick in NYCFC history as our Brazilian no.9 joins an elite club alongside Frank Lampard, David Villa and Alexandru Mitriță.
Our 2019 Newcomer of the Year took 13 minutes to tally his first goal for 2020 with an instinctive slide onto Ronald Matarrita’s cross, before he doubled his tally on 35’, converting a ball in from the other side delivered by Anton Tinnerholm.
His night was complete when he stepped up to convert the penalty after a San Carlos defender handled in the box, setting H9 off and running in style for his first full season at NYCFC.
With the five NYCFC away goals and the two-goal margin, San Carlos will need a big second leg at Red Bull Arena in order to advance.
A 3-0 away win in Harrison will be enough for next Wednesday’s visitors to knock out the Boys in Blue, as well as a 4-1, 5-2 or 6-3, while a 5-3 reverse would take the match to extratime.
The odds are certainly in NYC’s favor but it’s still only a job half done until the second 90’.