It’s over! It’s finally over!
Coming into Sunday’s away game against D.C. United, New York City FC were without a win in their first 6 games of the season, logging 5 draws and suffering one defeat. But this was a different NYCFC that took to the pitch at Audi Field on Easter Sunday. This NYCFC seemed to have a chip on their shoulder as they squared off against the best team in the Eastern Conference right now. And this burning desire to reign supreme against the best that the East surrently has to offer played dividends in securing a dominant 2-0 win that was never as close as the scoreline suggested.
For this contest, Domé Torrent & Co. decided to go with the 3-5-2 that proved offensively effective against Minnesota United the weekend prior. At various points throughout the match, this formation changed to a 3-4-3, 3-4-1-2, and a 5-3-2.
GK: Sean Johnson
DEF: Maxime Chanot, James Sands, Alexander Callens
MID: Anton Tinnerholm, Alexander Ring, Maxi Moralez, Ebenezer Ofori, Ronald Matarrita
FWD: Héber, Alexandru Mitrita
Early on, the game was admittedly sloppy for both teams as both City and DCU felt out the opposition, sussing out where they could find their openings going forward. It was NYCFC, however, that found their groove the earliest.
In the 11th minute, Maxi Moralez and Alexandru Mitrita utilized a one-touch connection to work the play inside in the attacking third. Following another one-two with Héber, Mitrita found space just outside the 18-yard box and attempted to curl one far-post past a helpless Bill Hamid. Unfortunately, the shot was just wide of the mark.
DCU would respond with a chance of their own in the 21st minute.
While attempting to make a pass up the field, Moralez had his pass blocked by Leonardo Jara. The deflected ball fell to the feet of Luciano Acosta who then lobbed in a cross from the right flank to an un-maked Wayne Rooney making a run into the box. The Englishman’s header, however, mercifully floated over goalkeeper Sean Johnson and the crossbar, keeping the game level at 0-0.
From this point on, NYCFC would make the Black-and-Reds pay for their wastefulness and take firm control over the game.
In the 32nd minute, Héber would be sprung into space after a bad back-pass from Jara. As Hamid came off his line to cut off the angles, the Brazilian striker attempted to loft a chipped shot over the keeper’s head. Hamid was up to task, however, as he pushed the ball away.
City would eventually break through just moments later in the 35th minute. Héber once again ran onto the ball while cutting inside from the right. City’s newest forward then made a pair of delicate touches before laying it off to his right and to the feet of Mitrita, who then tidily finished his left-footed shot through the legs of a DCU defender and past a diving Hamid to give NYCFC a much-deserved 1-0 lead.
NYCFC’s defense would then get some of the spotlight as Sean Johnson, eager to atone for his own-goal blunder last week against Minnesota, stopped Fredric Brillant’s close-range attempt with his trailing right leg in the 37th minute to help his team retain the lead.
The Blues had chance to extend their one-goal lead late in first half stoppage time after Anton Tinnerholm was brought down in the box for a penalty. Moralez stepped up to take the shot from the spot, but hit the woodwork as the first half came to a close.
The second half saw NYCFC double down on their pressure and dominance as they continued to press DCU’s back line and force turnovers, creating a plethora of offensive opportunities.
City’s first significant chance in the second half came by way of a Moralez shot from distance. But for the second time, he was denied by the frame of the goal. Despite coming up short on most of their attempts, NYCFC would finally get their insurance goal a minute later.
Alex Ring delivered a ball to the feet of James Sands who tapped it over to Ronald Matarrita. On his first touch, Mata guided the ball over DCU’s defense into the path of Héber who stuck a shot through the legs of Hamid and grabbed his first MLS goal in his first start.
This goal would be the dagger in the heart of DCU as they played lethargically for damn near the remainder of the contest, allowing NYCFC to leave Audi Field with a 2-0 victory and their first full three points of 2019.
Next up: It’s a short turnover for NYCFC as they head back to the Bronx to face the Chicago Fire at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, April 24. They remain home on Saturday to take on Orlando City on April 27, making this week a three-game odyssey.