Three games. Three wins. Nine points.
Despite missing both David Villa and Anton Tinnerholm due to injury, New York City FC was able to pull out a 2-0 win against Orlando City on St. Patrick’s Day to give them three wins on the trot to start the 2018 season.
The game — initially scheduled for a 3:55 PM kickoff — was delayed to a 4:06 start due to Orlando arriving to Yankee Stadium late. By the time they took the field, both teams looked disjointed from the offset as they struggled to formulate legitimate chances.
The first significant chance of the game came in the 32nd minute when Orlando forward Justin Meram tried to capitalize on a New York turnover, only to be comfortably saved by Sean Johnson.
City then responded with a chance of their own. Following a brilliant cross by Yangel Herrera, Rodney Wallace won a header past Joe Bendik. The shot, however, clanged off the inside post to keep the game level.
The first half came to an end with little fanfare as both teams entered the locker rooms with the game at a 0-0 deadlock. As the second half kicked off, so did the action.
Eager to get on the scoring sheet, Meram coasted through the right flank only to send his shot wide past both Johnson and the far post. A minute later, Maxi Moralez would miss an identical shot on the other end.
NYCFC would finally break through in the 62nd. Orlando keeper Joe Bendik turned the ball over to Ismael Tajouri on a bad back pass, who then slot it past Bendik for his first MLS goal, giving the Pigeons a 1-0 lead.
Tajouri would then come off for Ronald Matarrita in the 66th. Mata’s shift, however, would not last long as he would be subbed off in the 72nd for Tommy McNamara after receiving an apparent leg injury. For the sake of both NYCFC and the Costa Rican national team — the latter of which enters World Cup play in 90 days — we wish Mata a quick and full recovery.
Despite losing Matarrita, City wouldn’t take their foot off the gas as they would strike again in the 74th.
Following a costly turnover by Sacha Klejestan, replacement right back Saad Abdul-Salaam passed it into the box to Jesus Medina who delicately touched over to Maxi Moralez. The dimunitive Argentine then fired a beautiful low-driven shot to the far post past Bendik, increasing City’s advantage to 2-0.
Orlando’s Will Johnson later had an opportunity to put his side back into the game. His one-on-one chance, however, would carom off the post.
City would then play keep-away and secure the three points at home, giving the Bronx Blues their third straight win to begin the 2018 MLS season.
Next up: NYCFC heads to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Revolution on Saturday, March 24. The game is scheduled to kick-off at 1:30 PM on the YES Network.