Sean Okoli’s left foot belongs in the Smithsonian. This isn’t a hot take; it’s what Thomas Jefferson, our Foundingest Father, would call a self-evident truth.
Indeed, on Wednesday night, NYCFC raged back from a two-goal deficit to end on level terms with hosts CS Emelec, 2-2. Okoli and trialist John Stertzer handled the scoring for the Bronx Blues, who kicked off their preseason friendly slate in what felt like a midseason atmosphere at the Estadio George Capwell.
40,000 fans! For a friendly! I mean, DAMN. Can we get a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security and pop shit off like this at Yankee Stadium, like, once?
OK, we’re getting off-track. Here’s how the visitors lined up:
GK: Sean Johnson
DEF: Ronald Matarrita, Alexander Callens, Ethan White, Maxime Chanot
MID: James Sands, Tommy McNamara, Andrea Pirlo
FWD: Khiry Shelton, David Villa (C), Jack Harrison
There was plenty of buzz for 16 year old NYCFC Academy kid James Sands— before the game, gaffer Patrick Vieira told WFAN’s Glenn Crooks that the defensive midfield padawan understands the game like a 30 year old. But the heroics belonged to two other new faces on the night, striker Sean Okoli, who flavor-blasted a left-footed javelin strike into the back of the net from beyond the eighteen yard box, and midfield trialist John Stertzer, who calmly tapped home to draw level against the dying of the light.
The late flurry redeemed what had been a pedestrian opening hour-plus for the Bronx Blues: not a single shot on goal, a defensive group searching for its footing, and a lack opportunities for David Villa and Andrea Pirlo to take over all served to mute the revelry for the visitors. Two goals from Emelec newcomer Ayrton Preciado — the second off a jedi-grade throughball from Fernando Gaibor — were the only action in town.
That is, until Ugo had his say.
On balance, a grand day out for the Boys in Blue. Plenty more cobwebs still need to be shaken off, but it’s awfully nice to see those guys racing around the pitch again. The new home shirt ain’t bad, either.
- Vieira said that James Sands is competing for a spot on the first team. It doesn’t matter if it actually happens— the mere fact that it’s being considered is outrageously fantastic on its own. To the kid’s credit, he took care of business.
- Time to give John Stertzer a contract. The former Real Salt Lake man has a rough injury history, but looks to be the perfect fit as (presumably) an end-of-the-bench midfielder that can cut passing lanes, command the ball with competence, and play the part of the glue guy.
- Can you believe it? The next scheduled friendly is against the Red Bulls. Mark your calendars for February 15th! The match, part of the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona, will be broadcast on YES at 4:00pm ET.