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NYCFC defeats Chicago 2-0 to clinch playoff berth

The Blues end a six-game slump to return to form

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York City FC Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After going six straight games without a win, New York City FC returned to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx eager to return to their winning ways. Poised with dispatching the Chicago Fire — a team that borders on cellar-dwelling — the Blues had a golden opportunity to grab a win and automatically clinch an MLS Playoff berth, as well as provide themselves with some confidence going into their last handful of games.

Fortunately for the Boys, they did just that. Despite an underwhelming first half that saw them create repeated dangerous opportunities with no return on investment (you know, as usual), NYCFC surged in the early goings of the second half thanks to goals from Alexander Ring and David Villa to take a 2-0 win.

The first half was relatively uneventful and was indicative of New York City’s recent form: create tons of chances, but don’t score. City dictated the pace from the onset. Chicago would settle into the game midway through, but the tail-end of the first saw NYCFC reclaim control and create some dangerous chances, the most notable of which were two corners from Maxime Chanot that narrowly missed wide and a David Villa sliding shot that was rocketed over the bar.

But in the second half, adjustments were made and moments from the opening whistle, NYCFC would find their first tally.

City built the play up slow until it finally found Maxi Moralez. The Argentinian playmaker then found Villa at the edge the box who played a subliminally back-heeled the ball to the feet of Alex Ring, who then curled it in from distance to give NYCFC a 1-0 advantage.

Soon after Ring’s big-time finish, NYCFC would effectively ice the game and leave the end result of little doubt.

On the counter-attack, Anton Tinnerholm delivered a nicely weighted pass to who else but Moralez streaking down the right flank in the 51st minute. After sizing up his defender, Maxi would slip the ball through his adversary's legs and find Villa running onto it in the middle of the box, right in front of Chicago keeper Stefan Cleveland. The legendary Spaniard’s first-time shot glided effortlessly past a hopeless Cleveland giving NYCFC a 2-0 lead that would hold until the end.

The remainder of the match would be done at a snail’s pace and would contain little excitement, with the exceptions being a Nemanja Nikolic goal being called back for being offside and a big stop by Sean Johnson in the 80th minute.

Next up: New York City finish up a three-game week with a trip to the Twin City metro to take on Minnesota United on September 29. After that, it’s a three-week break. Yikes.