Facing somewhat of an existential crisis following their disappointing 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo, New York City FC came back home to the Bronx to face of the fellow 2015 expansion side Orlando City SC. Both teams had hit a relative rough patch prior to their Saturday night meeting, with Orlando losing three straight entering play and NYCFC under-performing on the road.
Having won all of their six games at home thus far in 2018, the Bronx Blues looked to take the fight to Orlando and bring themselves back to winning form. Fortunately, they did just that in a huge 3-0 victory, bolstered by that of a Ismael Tajouri-Shradi brace on Pride Day.
NYCFC lined up as follows:
GK: Sean Johnson
DEF: Sebastien Ibeagha, Alex Ring, Alex Callens
MID: Anton Tinnerholm, Ebenezer Ofori, Tommy McNamara, Maxi Moralez
FWD: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Jo Inge Berget, Jesus Medina
NYCFC had the first chance in the early going. In just the 3rd minute, Maxi Moralez fired in a cross that was met by the head of Jesus Medina. The shot, however, went just over the bar.
Despite some early attacking opportunities for New York City, Orlando quickly found a rhythm and started attacking with more intensity. After settling into the game, OCSC midfielder Josue Colman found himself space from about 20 yards out and decided to take a chance. And while his shot did go around City goalkeeper Sean Johnson, the curl couldn’t beat the far post and harmlessly trickled away for a clearance.
It was then when New York City would be able to take advantage of Orlando’s misfortunes. In the 35th minute, Anton Tinnerholm would lay the ball into the path of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi who was making an overlapping run into the box. The Libyan winger made a sublime cut-back maneuver to shake off an Orlando defender and ever-so-easily curled the ball past keeper Joe Bendik to give NYCFC a 1-0 lead.
The first would come to an end with that lead intact, though there was definitely room for improvement.
With the 3-back formation barely hanging on, manager Patrick Vieira elected to sub off midfielder Tommy McNamara for left back Ben Sweat, shifting back towards the team’s signature 4-3-3. But early returns on such an investment appeared negative.
Just minutes into the second batch of 45 minutes, center back Alex Callens brought down Orlando’s Chris Mueller in the box for a penalty. Former Red Bull Sacha Kljestan stepped up to take it, but banged it off the post allowing NYCFC to hang onto their fragile 10 advantage.
From there, the game would begin to break open for the Boys in Blue, especially after David Villa came in off the bench in the 65th minute.
In the latter stages of the game, NYCFC would earn a free kick nearby the corner flag in the opposing third. Despite having an acute angle, Tajouri-Shradi stepped up to take the kick and put it towards net. Some brilliant shielding by Sebastien Ibeagha disorientated Joe Bendik, allowing the ball to trickle inside the far post and give NYCFC a 2-0 lead in the 79th minute.
Moments later, City would seal the game.
Making his first appearance off the bench in 2018, Jonathan Lewis methodically split two defenders and then fed the ball to Jesus Medina whose shot caromed off the crossbar. Villa’s rebound would also hit the bar, but Maxi Moralez was right there to clan up the trash and knock the ball in, capping a 3-0 victory for NYCFC.
Next up: NYCFC heads back to Red Bull Arena to do battle with the New York Red Bulls in a midweek US Open Cup matchup on June 6.