I’m not gonna lie, I had small expectations for this game. And how could I not?
Coming into Saturday’s game against the Montreal Impact, New York City FC were completely depleted. Lone remaining striker Taty Castellanos was suspended due to yellow card accumulation, as was veteran center back Maxime Chanot. To make matters worse, an undisclosed NYCFC player tested positive for COVID-19. Due to his absence from the team sheet, it’s speculated that this player was Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.
With so many players absent from the fold, NYCFC faced an uphill battle to grab a positive result in the Bronx — even against a struggling team like the Montreal Impact.
But to my surprise, NYCFC got the job done in a game that had to be seen to be believed.
The first half went about as well as one would expect with such a makeshift lineup out there (which included Jesus Medina at striker and Ronald Matarrita at left wing). Everything was fine, other than City’s presence in the offensive third.
But towards the latter stages of the second half, NYCFC would turn on the boosters and opened up the floodgates.
In the 68th minute, after several missed chances, Medina would finally get his goal on a Ronald Matarrita cross that was poorly dealt with by the Montreal defense. The Parauayan’s third goal of the season was a bright spot in what would ultimately be an underwhelming game at the center forward position.
After a big stop by Sean Johnson in the 79th minute to keep the Blues up a goal, NYCFC would strike again in the 83rd to double their advantage.
In his first start back from injury, Maxi Moralez would find Anton Tinnerholm on the right flank. With his window of opportunity closing, the right back tapped the ball right back to Moralez who delicately guided a shot far post and into the back of the net to increase NYCFC’s lead to 2-0.
But City saved its best surprise for last.
On a corner kick just moments after Maxi flirted with a brace, Matarrita would loop in a cross that sailed just over the head of Alexander Callens. Fortunately, the ball would land right at the feet of none other than Tony Rocha who struck the cross on the full volley for his first ever MLS goal, giving City a 3-0 lead to the joy of all of his teammates.
Montreal would grab a consolation goal in the 89th minute when Romell Quioto would strike one through Johnson’s five hole to eliminate NYCFC’s clean sheet. But it was all for naught as City would easily see out the five minutes of stoppage time to solidify a 3-1 victory in an empty Yankee Stadium.