Philadelphia Goals: Bedoya 63'
MLS is Back, but New York City FC’s wait for a first point of the MLS season goes on after an unfortunate 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union in their opening game at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Alejandro Bedoya scored on a Philadelphia counter-attack on 63’ to settle the match in a 9am kickoff which featured few clear goalscoring opportunities.
Héber went close to finding the equalizer with five minutes to go but Andre Blake made a big save to deny NYC a share of the spoils.
123 days had passed since NYCFC’s last competitive match but Ronny Deila’s starting XI showed just two changes from the side which kicked off vs. Tigres in the CONCACAF Champions League four months ago.
A training ground knock ruled out Alexandru Mitriță, handing Taty Castellanos the start, while James Sands won the spot partnering Alexander Callens in the heart of defense, allowing Maxi Moralez to join Keaton Parks and Alex Ring in the midfield.
Despite the long break from competitive action, NYCFC made a confident start to the match, playing through the lines with composure and working the ball into some dangerous spaces on the field through the opening 10'.
The first meaningful opportunity of the match fell the way of Keaton Parks on 8', when the Texan thumped a header at goal from a free-kick which Blake got down to save and hold for his first save of the morning.
At the other end, Sean Johnson was required to make a couple of routine stops on Philly breakaways between the 10’ and 25’, although it was NYC who were edging the game’s 1:1 battles and the possession.
There were a couple more half openings in a measured, slightly restrained first half, but the first 45’ would end goalless.
Jesus Medina was introduced as a second half substitution at the break, replacing Keaton Parks in the first change of the competition and Deila’s side flew out of the traps from the restart, forcing a flurry of good chances, including on 48’ when Matarrita’s cut-back found Castellanos who stung Blake’s fingertips with a strong low shot.
A few minutes later, Héber flashed a header wide as the pressure mounted, but it would be Philadelphia who would score the first goal of the encounter on a rare break.
Alejandro Bedoya was the player who scored from a tight angle on 63’, profiting from an unfortunate collision in the box which took out a covering NYCFC player and opened up space for a shot into the far corner.
A goal down against the run of play, Deila brought in Gary Mackay-Steven and Gedion Zelalem to try and alter the points of attack, but it was Héber who went closest to finding the equalizer on 87’.
The Brazilian did everything right, taking down a cross on the left side of the area and attempting to curl the ball around the goalkeeper, but Blake made an incredible fingertip save to keep his side ahead.
The goalkeeper was the hero again in the final minute of stoppage-time to deny Mackay-Steven who broke through behind the defense but saw his shot blocked, consigning City to this narrow defeat.
How We Lined Up
NYCFC takes on Orlando City on Tuesday, July 14 at 8:00PM ET. In a change to the schedule, City will round off group play with their third match against Inter Miami on Monday, July 20 at 9:00AM ET.