This season began with extraordinary promise for New York City FC. It’s not ending that way.
The Pigeons visited the Montréal Impact’s Stade Saputo tonight, desperately seeking a road win for the first time since their last trip to Canada — August 12th, against Toronto FC. That was also the last time New York City scored more than one goal in a game: a span, if you’re keeping track, of five games.
That streak is now six games. And, truthfully, there was precious little to indicate that it will end anytime soon. Let’s briefly reiterate tonight’s action.
New York City were facing a dogged Impact team frantically striving to stay above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. Montréal’s form reflected this entering tonight: winners of three of their last four, they’d pasted the Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union by a combined score of 7-1 in their last two games. Combined with the Pigeons’ road difficulties, this promised to be a rough game. So it proved.
Neither team gave quarter, which made for a chippy, herky-jerky game. New York City scored first, though, which reflected their rampant possession stats. David Villa worked the ball out wide to fullback Ben Sweat. Sweat then delivered a low cross to an onrushing Jo Inge Berget. As the striker tried to get a foot on the ball, defender Rudy Camacho got there first; but all he managed to do was turn the ball into his own goal.
No matter: an embattled Pigeons’ squad would take the gift with no complaint. But they were singularly incapable of adding to it. In the 27th minute, the Impact equalized. Midfielder Nacho Piatti made an exquisite back-heel pass to Michael Azira, who shot low. The ball took a skip past goalkeeper Sean Johnson, and into the goal.
From there, the game settled into a defensive struggle, and featured more caution cards than actual offense. In the 87th minute, Montréal’s Matteo Mancosu thought he’d notched a game-winner, but he was correctly called offside after some discussion between referee Nima Saghafi and VAR Fotis Bazakos.
It ended 1-1.
Next up for the Pigeons: a Wednesday night home game against the Chicago Fire. That game is at 7 pm.