Having only been able to obtain 4 points through their first three games of the 2017 campaign, New York City FC looked to build upon a promising, yet inconsistent start to their season as they hosted the San Jose Earthquakes amid cold, overcast conditions in the Bronx on Saturday.
The result was an exciting 2-1 come-from-behind win.
The Blues lined up identically to how they did in their last two games against DC United and the Montreal Impact:
GK: Sean Johnson
DEF: Ethan White, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ronald Matarrita
MID: Alexander Ring, Andrea Pirlo, Maxi Moralez
FWD: Jack Harrison, David Villa (C), Rodney Wallace
From the onset, New York City was put under pressure by the San Jose attack. Midfielder Darwin Ceren sent a through-pass to forward Chris Wondolowski, giving the USMNT mainstay a 1-on-1 opportunity against NYC goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the box. Johnson would live up to the occasion, however, with a spectacular left-footed save.
The 0-0 deadlock would be broken when San Jose’s Marcos Ureña slotted a near-post shot past Johnson in the 6th minute following an unfortunate deflection off the knee of defender Alexander Callens, giving the Quakes an early 1-0 lead.
But it wouldn’t be long until New York City would answer back.
In the 10th minute, fullback Ronald Matarrita sent a bombing cross to captain David Villa, who would deliver a gorgeous one-touch back-heel pass into the box and into the path of winger Jack Harrison. The 20-year-old Englishman then fired a cross-body shot which trickled into the net following a heavy carom off the hands of Quakes keeper David Bingham, leveling the game at 1-1 and giving Harrison his first goal of the 2017 campaign.
City would almost strike again late in the first half when Rodney Wallace was denied of what would have been his third goal in four games after some defensive heroics from San Jose’s Victor Bernandez in the 40th minute, keeping the 1-1 tie intact at the halftime whistle.
After being inserted in the 62nd minute for midfielder Andrea Pirlo, local cult-hero Tommy McNamara would immediately make his presence known.
Following yet another wondrous back-heel pass from David Villa, a streaking Ronald Matarrita would lay the ball into the path of an unmarked Tommy Mac who would roll the ball ever so easily into the net to give the Bronx Blues a 2-1 advantage in the 67th minute.
Despite continued hard work towards putting the game once again at level terms, the Earthquakes’ comeback aspirations would be put in serious jeopardy when Bernandez would be sent off following a reckless, studs-up tackle on McNamara in the 79th, leaving San Jose with 10 men to finish out the contest.
Following some tense late-game drama, New York City would hold on to secure the 2-1 victory.
Following several close-but-no-cigar chances in the first three matches, Jack Harrison finally found the back of the net against the Quakes. And while it definitely wasn’t as sexy as his absolute thrashing of Dominic Oduro in Montreal last season, it was a well-deserved payoff after weeks and weeks of hard work.
Another player who opened his 2017 goal scoring account was none other than Tommy McNamara. The West Nyack native’s role so far this season has been limited to off-the-bench appearances, and a key contribution was definitely needed to raise his stock and earn him a place in any and all future conversations pertaining to Patrick Vieira’s starting lineups.
While T-Mac and Harrison were getting all the glory on offense, I feel the defensive presence of Maxime Chanot was the difference in this game. The Luxembourg international went into tackles with gusto and constantly cleaned up the trash in front of goal. It seemed at one that Chanot was winning almost every lobbed ball that was struck in his direction. And despite a great effort from all participants, Maxime gets th nod for Man of the Match from me.
Next Up: New York City FC heads to the nation’s capital to face DC United at RFK Stadium on Saturday, April 8th at 4:00 PM ET. The game will be nationally televised on UniMas.