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The ‘ThiaGoal’: NYCFC’s triumphant last minute win against D.C. United

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You had to see it to believe it

MLS: D.C. United at New York City FC Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

From the second he stepped onto the pitch on Sunday in place of the seemingly injured Jesus Medina, Thiago Andrade was making a difference. Tremendous footwork, tons of energy, and lightning pace defined the Brazilian’s game as he showed himself to be an asset to the attack on a night where NYCFC’s usual gang of final third artistes were not. Taty Castellanos has struggled, having not scored a goal in almost two months. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi had a pretty average game in stark contrast to the primetime performances he’s put in as of late. And, of course, Medina had to exit the game early.

This left Thiago, a recent signing who was long-awaited, but kinda faded from the main conversation with the arrival of a new Young Designated Player in Talles Magno. But anyone who has done their due diligence and watched the game tape knows that Thiago brings a litany of intangibles — speed and physicality. You know, the type of stuff you can’t teach.

From the second he stepped onto the pitch on Sunday, Thiago created a spark. Every time he was on the ball, there was this subconscious feeling that something great could happen at any moment.

And sure enough, the Brazilian’s time to shine came at best possible moment.

Despite starting the game down 1-0 before the 10th minute, NYCFC gradually grew into the game and dictated the pace. Early on in the second half, Ronny Deila decided to switch it up by removing Alfredo Morales from the No. 8 position in exchange for Keaton Parks. The American’s presence would be felt with an equalizing header in the 84th minute off a header.

As the four minutes of stoppage time ticked down, it seemed all but certain that both New York City and D.C. United would be be taking a home a share of the spoils. But after a big save from Sean Johnson, the goalkeeper rolled the ball out into the path of Thiago. What happened next was a thing of absolute beauty.

Spurring a 3-on-2 counterattack with support from Santi Rodriguez and Maxi Moralez, Thiago decided to do it himself. First, he blasted past Brendan Hines-Ike with a blinding burst of speed. As time to came to make a decision — take a shot or pass it off — Andrade instead made a nifty backheel onto his left foot past Hines-Ike and let go of a low curled shot.

DCU keeper Bill Hamid was able to get a touch on it. But to no avail. The ball traveled just inside the far post, giving NYCFC a triumphant 2-1 victory at the absolute death.

No matter how many times you watch it, the magic never diminishes. With one play, Thiago entered in NYCFC lore forever.

Take a bow, kid.