This wasn't a preseason friendly. It's not the preseason.
But, at the very least, New York City FC can say that it got a trip to the beach and a 2-1 victory.
In a vastly underwhelming Friday night affair at the Estadio Juan Ramón Loubriel, an own goal apiece (!!!) and a late winner from Kwadwo Poku decided the scoring in front of 7,850.
The Bronx Blues came out in a 4-3-3, with a couple tweaks we haven't seen before.
SUBSTITUTES: Mix (46' - Lampard), Hernandez (46' - Jacobson), Hurtado (46' - Wingert), Ballouchy (46' - Pirlo), Mullins (46' - Villa), Johansen (46' - Saunders), Rawls
Andrew Jacobson in central defense and R.J. Allen at left back is simply a reflection of the lack of defensive depth on the roster. We've only ever seen Allen on the right, but with Chris Wingert currently the only left back on the squad -- and the opponents ranked 172nd in the FIFA World Rankings -- caretaker coach Rob Vartughian had to give it a go.
Interestingly enough, this particular lineup might be the only way to keep Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Tommy McNamara, Poku, and Jacobson on the field at the same time. Necessity is the mother of invention, but on this night, the invention looked funky.
In the 7th minute, Allen raced up the left flank and crossed in for Khiry Shelton, who did whatever he pleased on the opposite wing. A clumsy clearance from the home team ended up in the back of the wrong net, and New York City led 1-0.
The Boricua side started to ease their way into the game late in the first half, and will feel hard-done by what happened (and didn't) in the second. After a New York City own goal by trialist defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who is most certainly not getting a contract offer from this team, the hosts had to withstand two would-be go-ahead goals flagged for offside. Both were close-- close enough for the first to coax a sheepish smile out of captain and leading scorer Pito Ramos.
Las Mujeres Azules weren't gonna miss this one. (NYCFC.com)
Really, though, it was nice to be able to watch this team, even if the product was sloppy, no result was on the line, and the YouTube stream I was watching was of notably crappy quality even when it wasn't crashing and cutting out entirely.
This is an awfully important offseason for New York City. Hell, they all are, but it's the first "real" offseason the team has ever had. Claudio Reyna and Patrick Vieira have their work cut out for them as they continue to get affairs in order in advance of the January transfer window and the run up to the 2016 campaign. Until then, at least we had a game to watch.
And, of course, a Poku party.