Well, that sucked.
New York City FC traveled to the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. on Saturday to do battle with five-time MLS champs LA Galaxy, in the club’s first broadcasted preseason matchup of 2018. The Galaxy routed City, 3-0, in a game marred by poor performances on both ends of the ball, as well as the controversial sending off of fullback Ronald Matarrita in the first half.
NYCFC fielded a mixture of perennial starters, new signings, and trialists for the contest:
GK: Brad Stuver
DEF: Ronald Matarrita (c), Alex Callens, Sebastien Ibeagha*, Saad Abdul-Salaam
MID: Maxi Moralez, Kwame Awuah, James Sands
FWD: Jesus Medina, Vini Lansade^, Ismael Tajouri
Bench: Tyler Shaver^, Joseph Scally^, Dante Polvara^, Ryan Felix*, Justin Haak^, David Villa
^= NYCFC academy player
It didn’t take long for the Galaxy to get on the board. In the ninth minute, winger Romain Alessandrini — after dispossessing Matarrita — whipped a shot off the crossbar. After a botched clearance by center back Alex Callens, the ball fell to the feet of former Columbus Crew SC striker Ola Kamara, who smashed a volley into the far corner from the top of the box.
New York City’s only significant chance of the game came in the 34th minute when Maxi Moralez fired a gorgeous free kick toward goal which was, unfortunately, saved by Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham.
Shortly after that, while attempting to dispossess Alessandrini of the ball, Matarrita appeared to lose his footing and clipped the Frenchman’s ankle. The play was mostly expected to result in a yellow card due to the softness of the tackle, but referee Drew Fischer saw it differently and reached into his back pocket, sending the Costa Rican defender back to the locker room and forcing NYCFC to play the remainder of the game down a man.
Following a spectacular save by Brad Stuver to deny Giovani dos Santos of a near-post opportunity, City escaped the first half with just a 1-0 deficit. However, things wouldn’t get any better for the Boys in Blue.
The Galaxy made wholesale changes to their squad to start the second half, whereas New York City elected to initially retain their first-half eleven (well, ten). This, however, made little difference as LA continued to make best with their one-man advantage and pound the ball into the opposing third, giving NYCFC little chance to mount an attack of their own.
In the 70th minute, Tomas Hilliard-Arce — the second overall pick in this year’s SuperDraft — put a header past substitute goalkeeper Andre Rawls to increase the Galaxy’s lead. Baggio Husidic later capped the night off with a late goal in stoppage time after Rawls parried an Alex Mendez shot directly into his path, giving the Galaxy a 3-0 victory.
Next up: The Boys in Blue travel to Mexico to take on Atlético Club de San Luis on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The game is only viewable if you attend NYCFC’s watch party at Calico Jack’s.