It’s hard to put into words exactly what kind of game it was that we witnessed yesterday. On one hand, it featured some of the best offense we’ve seen from New York City FC thus far in 2019. Unfortunately, it was also one of the most lethargic performances from the defense, who practically gifted Minnesota United all three of their goals.
In the end, the first-ever game at Minnesota’s shiny new Allianz Field ended in a 3-3 draw in a match that featured both extreme positives and equally extreme negatives.
GK: Sean Johnson
DEF: Maxime Chanot, James Sands, Tony Rocha
MID: Anton Tinnerholm, Alexander Ring, Ebenezer Ofori, Ronald Matarrita
FWD: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Maxi Moralez, Taty Castellanos
From the onset, the game was wide open for both clubs as NYCFC and Minnesota traded dangerous attacks back and forth. Anton Tinnerholm was the first to threaten goal with a good effort in the 8th minute following a good display of skill to cut in from the right flank. Unfortunately, Loons keeper Vito Mannone had little trouble stopping the the ensuing shot.
As the game began to quickly swing in their favor, it was Minnesota that would fire the opening salvo.
In the 13th minute, Ethan Finlay — fresh off burning City “defender” Tony Rocha — swung in a cross that was initially dealt with by both Maxime Chanot. Their work, however, was in vain as an opportunistic Osvaldo Alonso stormed into the box and fired a rocket on the full volley past the NYCFC defense and goalkeeper Sean Johnson to give the Loons an early 1-0 advantage.
In a good effort to not let the game get out of hand, NYCFC would soon mount an offensive rally that would see them score twice in quick succession.
An absolutely gorgeous overhead pass from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in the 16th minute found Taty Castellanos in stride in the 18-yard box, Eager to right the wrongs of his past, the young Argentinean forward took one delicate touch before guiding the ball far-post past Mannone to level the game at 1-1.
Moments later, City would pull ahead as Castellanos would make a flashy one-touch backheel into the path of Tajouri-Shradi. The Libyan’s initial shot would be blocked by a Minnesota defender, but his follow-up scissor kick laced the ball far-side to give NYCFC a 2-1 lead.
From there, however, things would quickly unravel for the Pigeons.
In the 21st minute, Ethan Finlay would once again blow past Rocha and get in behind on the right flank. After a few touches into space, the Minnesota winger would cross it to an unmarked Angelo Rodriguez in the center of the box, leading to an easy tying goal mere minutes after City took the lead.
And then, things got worse for NYCFC.
On a seemingly innocuous back-pass from Ebenezer Ofori in the 32nd minute, Sean Johnson attempted to play the ball with the outside of his foot towards the central are of the 6-yard box. His touch, however, was not delicate enough and instead led to a costly own goal. SeanJohn is about as reliable a keeper as you can find anywhere, but this untimely mistake definitely seemed big in retrospect.
Minnesota would almost be given a penalty in the 41st minute, but would have it called back after it was revealed that they had played the ball in an offside position.
After all of this madness, the game would settle down until the first half finally came to an end.
After having to suffer watching Tony Rocha struggle at the left center back position, Domé Torrent made tactical changes to start the second half and mitigate the damage. The first was subbing Rocha off for winger Alexandru Mitrita, and then switching to a traditional 4-3-3 (or 4-3-2-1) formation.
And overall, the change seemed to yield some decent returns as the Pigeons’ defense became much more stingy as time went on.
NYCFC would seemingly tie up the game in the 59th minute after Castellanos touched the ball past Mannone for an open-net goal. But the goal would be cancelled out after referee Alan Kelly once again consulted with VAR and ruled that Taty had played the ball with his left bicep before scoring.
But City would not be denied of their key road point. as minutes later they would grab their tying goal.
On a free kick from an acute angle on the right wing, Tajouri-Shradi — who already had a goal on the day — would delicately place the ball in between the Minnesota goalkeeper and defense and have it trickle back-post to tie it up 3-3 and bag a nice brace on the day.
Following Izzy’s big goal, the two teams would be go back-and-forth in trading quality chances with both defenses unwilling to budge.
The game would have a scary moment in the 82nd minute. While defending a corner in the 82nd minute, Castellanos would make head-to-head contact with Minnesota defender Ike Opara. The clashing of heads gave Opara a significant gash in his forehead, while Taty was knocked out cold. Both men would eventually rise to their feet, but neither would return to the game.
At the end of it all, both teams took a share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw.
Next up: NYCFC heads to Audi Field in the nation’s capital to take on D.C. United on Sunday, April 21.