A record crowd of 3,042 came to the FGCU Soccer Complex to watch the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles take on their fifth MLS side overall, and the stars were out-- this may have been the most exciting loss in the Ft. Myers-based program's existence.
Remarked Eagles head coach Bob Butehorn after the game:
"It was one of the best moments in program history playing in front of 3,000 fans, playing with the likes of Pirlo, Lampard and Villa and with Patrick Vieira on the sideline; it doesn't get much better than that."
NYCFC dominated possession for much of the game, but found themselves hard-done by the woodwork on multiple occasions before Mullins's second half trump card. Here's how they lined up at the opening whistle:
GK: Josh Saunders
DEF: Ronald Matarrita, Ethan White, Jason Hernandez, Andoni Iraola
MID: Dank Frank, Andrea Pirlo, Poku the Punisher
FWD: Moussa Sane (trialist), David Villa, Tony Taylor
We've wondered out loud if Patrick Vieira would work out of a 4-3-3 template, and that was indeed the case from the outset. The Blues defense was never really tested, but to its own credit, FGCU goalkeeper Sawyer Jackman produced a number of tough saves, particularly against Villa and Poku, to keep his team credible in a matchup that could have easily produced one of those dumbfounding "Real Madrid versus Rayo Vallecano" scorelines. The Eagles had few chances on goal, including just a single legitimate one in the second half, but acquitted themselves nicely given the task they faced.
Winger Moussa Sane was not the only trialist to see the pitch for NYCFC-- midfielders Ernest Agyiri and Malick Mbaye trotted out for the Blues in the second half amid a host of changes. Only Matarrita, Hernandez, and Poku were on the pitch for the beginning of both of the evening's 40-minute halves.
New York City's next scheduled friendly is February 12th versus USL side OKC Energy in Bradenton, Florida.