The faithful New York City FC fans who braved the rain, wind, and Sunday PATH schedule to watch the Pigeons Orlando City at Red Bull Arena were rewarded with a satisfying 2-1 come-from-behind win. The game not only ensures that NYCFC will start the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs at home (wherever that “home” might be), it gives one the hope that this team has the ability, drive, and chemistry to make a deep run in the postseason.
For the third game in a row, interim head coach Nick Cushing put out a Starting XI with Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, and Thiago Martins in the back. For the third game in a row, Callens opened the scoring for NYCFC, pouncing on a ball in the mouth of the goal and knocking it into the back of the net.
Perhaps most important of all, for the third game in a row New York City looked composed, prepared, and professional. The mental lapses and questionable individual performances that characterized the team’s 10-game slide seem to be comfortably in the rear-view mirror, and the players now have the same kind of cohesion and resilience we saw emerge at the end of last season — and carry the team to winning the MLS Cup.
NYCFC: 13 shots, 5 on goal, 57% possession, 471 passes, 84.9% accuracy, 10 fouls
Orlando City: 13 shots, 1 on goal, 43% possession, 351 passes, 80.9% accuracy, 19 fouls
The win might not be the most dramatic or impressive of the year, but the three points earned in New Jersey lift NYCFC into third place and seal home-field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs. That’s no small accomplishment on what turned out to be an upset-filled weekend in MLS.
NYCFC will face Cincinnati FC, Orlando, Inter Miami, Columbus Crew, or Charlotte FC in the first round of the playoffs, and every one of those teams will be playing to keep their seasons alive this week. Even better for New York City, Orlando, Inter Miami, Columbus Crew, and Charlotte FC have midweek games against each other in a gladiatorial do-or-die that could see any one of those teams stumble out of playoff contention.
The NYCFC we saw during the summer likely would have folded under the pressure of a high-stakes game, and most certainly would have thrown away a result in Harrison, where the team was winless as the “home” side this season. Getting a victory in New Jersey in front of a not-terrible announced crowd of more than 13,000 spectators on a chilly, wet day. The grass at Red Bull Arena had been NYCFC’s kryptonite, but this team proved it can win at their home-away-from-home-away-from home.
g+ GameFlow: MLS Regular Season @NYCFC v @OrlandoCitySC on October 02, 2022. #NYCFC #VamosNYC #OrlandoCity #DaleMiAmor #NYCvORL pic.twitter.com/jGviOGwocI— GameFlow (@GameFlowxPG) October 2, 2022
Other bad habits were broken yesterday. NYCFC staged a come-from-behind win for just the second time this season: New York City are a less-than-stellar 2-5-10 after going down a goal.
Just as important, it was the first come-from-behind win that wasn’t a hot mess. Back in April, NYCFC beat Toronto FC at Citi Field after going down 0-2, then almost gave away the game in the final five minutes before finishing with a wild 5-4 win. Yesterday, after Orlando knocked in the opening goal just two minutes into the second half, NYCFC struggled to regain control of the flow of play. That changed once Cushing brought on Keaton Parks in the 60th minute, and NYCFC dominated possession in the midfield.
Just six minutes later, Callens scored to level it at 1-1.
Our number 6 is playing like a 9 right now #ForTheCity pic.twitter.com/qQgtITgSs3— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) October 2, 2022
Timing is everything
A final bad habit put to rest: Talles Magno scored for the first time in 10 games. The forward often looked uncomfortable playing in the striker role this season, but he looked more relaxed yesterday — and more dangerous.
First, he provided the assist to Callens, knocking the ball across the mouth of the goal. Then, he scored the game-winner 15 minutes later, receiving the ball from Gabriel Pereira inside the right side of the box before laying off a low, weighted shot that crossed up Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese before settling in just inside the left post.
The Boys in Blue go from front to back for the go-ahead goal ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/KO0LfCeyrZ— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) October 2, 2022
Maybe didn't have the fireworks of the golazos that MLS promotes every weekend, but it gets our vote for goal of the week.
It was an exquisite goal, a quality goal. Even more important, it was a composed goal. Talles Magno will sometimes let frustration get the better of him, and his play can become erratic and unfocused. Yesterday he was calm and imperious until he was subbed off in the 89th minute, and fully deserves the 8.5 rating given to him by FotMob.
Timing is everything, and if Talles Magno continues to display this kind of form through the rest of October it could be an exciting postseason.
Here's how it went down in Harrison #NYCvORL pic.twitter.com/pGm2eHDTZr— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) October 2, 2022
Orlando: Facundo Torres 47’
NYCFC, Alex Callens 66’
NYCFC, Talles Magno, 81’
Orlando, César Araújo, foul, yellow card, 57’
NYCFC, Maxi Moralez, other reason, yellow card, 69’
NYCFC, Talles Magno, excessive celebration, 82’
Orlando, Júnio Urso, foul, 89’
Referee: Joseph Dickerson
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Chris Wattam
Fourth Official: Luis Arroyo
VAR Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Assistant VAR Referee: Michael Kampmeinert