The Negative: Despite possessing the ball for 3⁄4 of the game and being up a man for over an hour, NYCFC nearly bottled it completely and instead relied upon brilliance off the bench to grab three points against a subpar team.
The Positive: Even when things didn’t go their way and were left with a limited amount of time to respond to an opposing go-ahead goal, City did what they needed to do and did not fall apart when it mattered most.
I could not blame anyone for holding either one — if not both — of these viewpoints. But as they say, a win is a win is a win... and so forth.
Needing some rotation due to match congestion, NYCFC manager Domé Torrent elected to mix it up a little bit. New pickups Gary Mackay-Steven and Eric Miller were given their first starts for the Boys in Blue, while the often maligned winger Jesus Medina made a return to the Starting XI in place of team star Maxi Moralez at the No. 10 position. And it was NYCFC’s youngest DP that would make an impact early.
In only the 15th minute, Medina found himself alone and surrounded by defenders down the right flank. The young Paraguayan displayed good balance and ball control to maintain possession before recycling the ball back into the midfield. From there, Alexandru Mitrita would play one-two’s with both Héber and Medina before finding his finishing touch in the box and giving City an early 1-0 advantage.
The lead, however, would not last long as Houston would draw the game level just ten minutes later on a goal from Juan Cabezas which was assisted by none other than former Pigeon Tommy McNamara.
Just moments after that, Houston would find themselves down a man on a pretty weird sequence of events.
On a deep goal kick, Ronald Matarrita shouldered Houston forward Romell Quioto off the path to the ball and to the ground. Seeing the strength disparity work once, Mata went in for second dibs much to Quioto’s frustration. The Honduran forward then completely lost his cool and threw an elbow towards Matarrita’s head. Referee Robert Sibiga originally penalized Quioto with a yellow card, but changed it to a red after consulting with assistant referee Kathryn Nesbitt.
NYCFC’s 11-v-10 advantage unfortunately would not pan out for the remainder of the half. At halftime, the game went into a prolonged weather delay due to lightning in the area.
When the second half finally commenced, City possessed the ball and would hardly turn it over. At one point, NYCFC were shown to have possessed the ball for 78% of the contest.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to stop a counter-attacking Houston late in the second half. Following transitional passes from McNamara and Matias Vera, Mauro Manotas fired one from distance past Sean Johnson giving the Dynamo a 2-1 lead.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think the game was over right then and there. Despite creating chances throughout, City lacked the final product in the attacking third to that point.
But NYCFC had two secret weapons, one of whom was already on the field in Taty Castellanos and another in the form of Maxi Moralez, the latter of whom was just about to enter the match and start dishing out dimes in the midfield.
And sure enough, it wouldn’t take long for the Boys in Blue to respond to Houston’s late tally.
In the 83rd minute, Keaton Parks looped a gorgeous cross into the box. Castellanos leaped and headed the ball in past goalkeeper Tyler Deric to level the game at 2-2.
But City wasn’t done there.
In the third minute of stoppage time, Matarrita lead the charge down the left wing before crossing the ball into the box. Unable to create a good enough shot for himself, Parks met the ball with his head and shuffled it to his right where Taty was in free space. The Argentinian elected to head the ball first, which was brilliantly dealt with by Deric. Eager to get his team in the win column, Taty would not be denied again as he would finish his own rebound and give NYCFC a triumphant 3-2 win.
The victory puts New York City at third place in the Eastern Conference, only four points behind the Philadelphia Union and with three games in hand.
Next up: NYCFC travels to the Dirty South to take on Atlanta United on the road on Sunday, August 11.