For a friendly, it was as calm and self-assured a performance as you could ask for. From start to finish, New York City completely dominated St. Mirren. The team dominated possession, moving the ball from left to right and from north to south, with St. Mirren utterly unable to stop them. Even though St. Mirren are three-quarters of the way through their season, and New York City had never played as a team, you would never have guessed that from watching New York City play.
The starting XI for New York City were:
- Saunders (GK);
- Wingert, Mendoza, Brovsky, and Facey on the backline;
- Grabavoy, Jacobson, Ballouchy, and Velasquez on the midfield;
- Villa and Mullins up top.
New York City started pressuring and attacking St. Mirren right from the start. Several early chances for New York City came to nought, but David Villa opened the scoring for New York City in the 33rd minute, in a cross that was abysmally defended by St. Mirren.
There was a second outstanding chance for New York City seven minutes later, but St. Mirren's goalkeeper ably parried it to safety. Halftime saw New York City and St. Mirren depart the field with New York City holding the 1-0 lead, but secure in the knowledge that it could've easily been more.
At the start of the second half, New York City made wholesale substitutions. Saunders stayed in goal, and Velasquez in the midfield. The changes were:
- Saunders (GK);
- Brandt, Watson-Siriboe, Alvarez, Williams on the back four;
- Dunn, Poku, Martinez, and Velasquez in midfield;
- Taylor and Nemec up top.
The bold play and pressure from New York City didn't let up, in spite of the mass substitutions. In the 65th minute, New York City subbed GK Akira Fitzgerald for Josh Saunders, and F Khiry Shelton for Velasquez.
In the 69th minute, Poku deliverd a swashbuckling, long pass to striker Tony Taylor, who absolutely crushed that pass with a sensational volley.
Beyond the scoreline, New York City showed excellent fitness. The understanding between the players was simply excellent as they passed the ball about the field. In short: an absolutely assured display, by all players on the squad. New York City may have also found a long-term replacement for Wingert at left back, with Connor Brandt delivering a poised performance.
The bigger takeaways for me, though, were Kwadwo Poku and Tony Taylor. Poku wreaked utter havoc on St. Mirren in the second half, ravaging their defense over and over again. He demonstrated excellent vision on the field, and set up Taylor's goal from deep in St. Mirren's half of the field. There's a good chance that New York City might've found their deep-lying playmaker in him.
For his part, Taylor showed speed, poise, and skill in his forward play, and generally showed why reports out of training camp in Florida had Kreis rating him highly. Finally, Adam Nemec was an all-action forward, tirelessly pulling shifts in defence.
Asked about the performance, coach Jason Kreis was pleased. "I'm pleased, a pleasing performance by everyone involved." He continued: "I knew there were going to be mistakes, and we'll correct those, and have an even better performance on Sunday."
Here's Kreis' post-match interview:
Based on what we saw on display this afternoon, New York City fans should be salivating at the prospect of savaging Brondby.