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New York City FC defeats Philadelphia Union 4-2 with second half rally

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Pigeons outlast Eastern Conference leaders in a stunning comeback victory

MLS: Philadelphia Union at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC had all the momentum in the world going into Saturday’s matchup with the Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Union. Following their substandard to the the season in which they went winless in their first five games, City has since surged and had gone 12 games unbeaten in all competitions going into the game against Philly.

And in the early goings of Saturday’s game, it seemed like that’s where it was gonna end. Entering the game missing a total of 7 players — including star forward Héber — NYCFC was heavily outplayed by the Union in the first half and seemed to have finally hit a snag. But a brilliant second half performance — anchored by both Taty Castellanos and Maxi Moralez — saw the Boys in Blue attack the game with aplomb en route to a 4-2 win in the Bronx.

From the onset, NYCFC were put on their back foot. In just the 7th minute, Philadelphia’s Jamiro Monteiro put a perfectly weighted ball into the box. The lobbed pass inched just over Alexander Ring’s head before finding the chest of Fafa Picault. The Union forward then touched it around Maxime Chanot before lacing the ball past Brad Stuver to give Philly an early 1-0 lead.

NYCFC would have an opportunity to level the game in the 17th minute after a display of brilliance from right back Anton Tinnerholm. The Swede got off a shot which was deflected by Matt Freese before being cleared off the line by Jack Elliott.

City would break through in the 21st minute when a stunning long-distance pass from Maxi Moralez found Taty Castellanos getting in behind. The Argentine made a sharp cut in the box in order to put the ball onto his dominant right foot, but would be brought down by Auston Trusty for a penalty kick.

Maxi stepped up to take the spot kick and buried it, knotting up the game at 1-1.

The game would not stay equal for long, however, when in the 30th minute, Ilsinho danced around NYCFC’s defense before squaring a ball into the box. The ball would then be touched back by Monteiro before being finished on the full volley by Kacper Przybyłko, allowing the Union to retake the lead going into halftime.

For a majority of the first half, NYCFC seemed out of sorts and struggled tactically against Philly. The 3-4-3 seemed obsolete without the help of certain key players and Alex Ring stuck in the three-man backline.

To begin the second half, manager Domé Torrent swapped to a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1. And the changes payed dividends.

Just seven minutes into the second half, Castellanos would once again be brought down in the box. In a moment of déjà vu, Moralez would once again step up to take the penalty kick and slot it past Freese to once again level the game at 2-2.

From there, the Boys in Blue would take control and not look back.

In the 72nd minute, Keaton Parks and Moralez would combine before the latter would lay the ball off centrally to Castellanos. Despite some tight marking, Taty would come up big as he would sneak one near-post to give NYCFC a 3-2 advantage.

Eager to match his fellow Argentine, Castellanos would once again find the back of the net just moments later.

After receiving a ball from Parks, Taty would play a billiant one-two with Maxi before chipping it ever so delicately over Freese to give City the 4-2 lead and put the game firmly out of reach for the visitors.

Just look at this sequence!

Following Taty collecting his brace, Torrent would sub on Ebenezer Ofori to lock the game down defensively and see NYCFC through to a triumphant 4-2 victory that saw City fall behind twice, only to win by two goals in front of a raucous New York crowd. With this win, New York City extend their unbeaten streak to 13 games, all competitions.

Next up: It’s a quick turnaround for the Pigeons who return to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, June 3, to take on the formidable Seattle Sounders.