Having recently seen the departure of manager Patrick Vieira, City was faced with a serious dilemma when sporting director Claudio Reyna announced that succeeding boss Domé Torrent was having a particularly hard time obtaining his work visa. Days passed with little to no new information until Torrent finally arrived in New York late last week, just in time for the club’s final training session on Saturday,
But the Blues showed no signs of being unprepared and subsequently defeated Toronto 2-1 in a game that served as fitting coronation of their new coach.
Coming off of several consecutive games of playing in the 3-5-2, Torrent elected to go with a more familiar 4-3-3 to take on the Reds.
GK: Sean Johnson
DEF: Anton Tinneholm, Sebastien Ibeagha, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat
MID: Ebenezer Ofori, Alex Ring, Maxi Moralez
FWD: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, David Villa, Jo Inge Berget
NYCFC started off strong and created the first few significant chances of the game. Their best chance, however, came in the 14th minute when Maxi Moralez was sent through on a stunning ball from distance by David Villa. Moralez made a nifty cut onto his dominant right foot and attempted to catch Toronto keeper Alex Bono napping on the near post. Unfortunately, Bono was up to task and parried the ball away.
Toronto would flirt with a goal moments later as Jonathan Osorio sent a left-footed curler towards the backpost. The shot made it past keeper Sean Johnson, but deflected off of the post. The rebound fell to the feet of Justin Morrow, who harmlessly sent a shot directly into Ebenezer Ofori.
Quickly after both teams had their chances, City settled into the game and established control. But all of that would be disrupted in the 24th minute when Villa pulled up with a leg injury, forcing him to be pulled from the match in exchange for winger Jesus Medina.
Despite NYCFC maintaining control following Villa’s injury, it would be Toronto that drew first blood.
Defender Auro would launch a deep bomb towards Victor Vazquez, who chipped the ball over an over-committed Johnson with sublime precision. The 37th minute goal proved to be the only tally for the first half.
Making the necessary adjustments to be less wasteful in the second half, it wouldn’t take long for NYCFC to spring into shape and knot the game up.
In the 51st minute, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi found himself in space on the left flank and sent a low cross into the box. The ball bounced off of Medina right to the feet of Berget, who cheekily back-heeled the ball into the net, tying the game a 1-1.
After Berget’s tying goal, New York City maintained a stranglehold on the game and continued to apply pressure on Toronto’s backline, sending shot after shot on net. But in the 68th minute, NYCFC would grab their game winner.
A lovely through ball by Moralez found Berget in space in the box. The Norweigan would not hesitate, and sent the ball past Bono, giving NYC a 2-1 lead and Berget his first ever MLS brace.
The remainder of the game would see NYCFC hold possession and pass around the back in an effort to waste time until referee Ismael Elfaith blew the final whistle, giving NYC their first victory under a new manager and seeing them remain undefeated at Yankee Stadium in 2018.