The deck looked stacked against New York City FC following the announcement that their star striker and captain David Villa would miss his third straight game following an injury sustained in pregame warmups. But, never ones to say “die”, NYCFC rallied in the second half to pull out three points on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes despite some early adversity, extending their season-opening unbeaten streak to five games.
San Jose wasted no time putting the Bronx Blues’ backs against the wall. In only the second minute of the game, the Quakes were awarded a corner which resulted in Yefferson Quintana pushing a near-post header past goalkeeper Sean Johnson, giving the hosts an early one-goal advantage.
Though they looked disjointed immediately following the concession, New York City eventually began to create significant chances via their playmakers Maxi Moralez and Jesus Medina.
The best chance in the first half came in the 43rd. Cutting into the middle of the pitch, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi sent a pass towards the box which was brilliantly dummied by Medina. Waiting for it was Moralez, who then slotted it into the the box to Medina. Following this beautiful display of interplay, Medina sent a far post cross towards striker Jo Inge Berget. Unfortunately, the Norweigan’s chest touch proved too heavy as his last-second shot was calmly deflected away by the San Jose defense.
After the halftime break, NYCFC’s progressive improvement finally payed dividends.
Just four minutes into the second half, Moralez sent a lovely ball to far-side of the box to an unmarked Anton Tinnerholm. In a nearly identical fashion to his home opener golazo, Tinnerholm struck the ball on a full volley and buried it off the crossbar, leveling the game at 1-1.
It wouldn’t be long before City would come back with the go-ahead goal.
A streaking Tajouri-Shradi would burn past the Earthquakes’ defense before centering the ball to Moralez. The Argentine DP would then take a crack which would deflect off a Quakes defender, causing it to skip over goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell and trickle into the net, giving NYCFC a 2-1 lead.
However, it wouldn’t be an early path to victory.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson was repeatedly called upon to keep the Blues up, making key saves on strikes from Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili and Quincy Amarikwa in both the 63rd and 79th minutes respectively.
After some late-game drama and Moralez almost netting a brace, NYCFC were able to see the match through. With the 2-1 victory, City improves to 4-1-0 (W-D-L) on the season and continues to look like the team to beat in Major League Soccer this year.
Next up: NYCFC take next weekend off before returning home to face Real Salt Lake on April 11 at Yankee Stadium.