New York City FC got the job done and beat the Chicago Fire 2-0 on Sunday night at SeatGeek Stadium. It was not perfect, but NYCFC desperately needed a win to calm things down and they did just that.
The three-game losing streak is snapped and NYCFC can build on this performance. The attack looked dangerous Sunday night and scored the two goals they needed, even with the final ball too often missing. The back line posted another clean sheet and did not allow a shot on target, even with some awkward defending in the first half.
Gabriel Pereira put in an absolute rocket that gave NYC the lead in the first half and they never looked back. For most of the second half, the game felt relatively secure after Santiago Rodriguez scored within two minutes of the second-half kickoff. That feeling of security has been missing for a while now, but performances like this can inspire hope that it will be back soon.
NYCFC: 8 shots, 5 on goal, 41.3% possession, 347 passes, 78.7% accuracy, 11 fouls
Chicago Fire: 10 shots, 0 on goal, 58.7% possession, 480 passes, 85.6% accuracy, 12 fouls
Takin’ care of business
When a team is on a three-game losing streak, it doesn’t matter how flashy or perfect a win is. All that matters is that it’s a win and that’s exactly what NYCFC accomplished on Sunday night. Now, NYCFC stays just a point behind Montreal for second and extends their lead over NJRB to four points.
Gabriel Pereira and Santiago Rodriguez provided the attacking spark Sunday night with both of their goals. That wasn’t the concerning part when it came to NYCFC’s performances recently. The two main culprits for the recent run of form were defending and giveaways.
As a good team should, NYC corrected most of those errors from the past few games and shut up shop ensuring that this wasn’t even a nerve-wracking win. While some of this had to do with Chicago’s lack of quality, that shouldn’t take anything away from the performance. Going into the game against Charlotte, the hope was that the same thing could be said. Charlotte were the worse team on paper and NYCFC should have won easily. The same was true for Sunday night, except the end result was much more satisfying.
g+ GameFlow: MLS Regular Season @ChicagoFire v @NYCFC on August 21, 2022. #cf97 #VamosFire #NYCFC #VamosNYC #CHIvNYC pic.twitter.com/IIAqYg0gHx— GameFlow (@GameFlowxPG) August 22, 2022
It was an all-around performance from NYCFC. Some players stood out from the rest as being outstanding, but more importantly, there wasn’t a single player that had a bad night. Everyone contributed in some way and everyone was involved in the winning effort. Hopefully, that means Sean Johnson’s words postgame after the Charlotte debacle woke everyone up a bit.
The moment of the game was no doubt Gabriel Pereira’s stunner of a goal in the 16th minute.
Take a look:
NYCFC takes the early lead! Gabriel Pereira finds the back of the net with a laser! #NYCFConYES pic.twitter.com/lCcx4xfB0d— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 21, 2022
Since Pereira started playing for NYCFC, it’s been obvious that he has the potential for some magical moments. This was certainly one of them.
The opening 15 minutes or so were awkward with few chances created for either side, but Pereira made sure to put an end to that. This is exactly the type of quality NYCFC need when defenders give too much space to any of the front three. Make them pay. All you need is one or two goals like this one, and suddenly other teams will start to take notice and not allow this kind of space anywhere on the field for Pereira.
All that does for NYC is open up the attack even more. Multiple times Sunday night, NYCFC were just a quality final ball away from sending an attacker in on net. That final ball will become just that tiny bit easier when defenders now have to close down the space outside the 18 in fear of a rocket being sent in like this one.
Even the tiniest bit more space will be enough for Thiago Andrade to get some more goals. Even though he didn’t grab a goal Sunday night, Thiago terrorized the Chicago defense and was relentless with his continuous blistering runs down the left side.
Also, let’s take a second to appreciate the absolute bangers that NYCFC have scored just in the last two games. First, Maxime Chanot put one in the top corner Wednesday and now Pereira is joining in on the fun.
The most consistent aspect of NYCFC’s performance Sunday night was the defensive work by the midfield of Justin Haak and Nicolas Acevedo. Time after time, Chicago tried to build up an attack through the center of the field but Haak and Acevedo were having no part of that.
The easy giveaways by NYC were the main issue during the three-game losing streak. That went by the wayside Sunday night as the midfield stepped up as a dominant force and broke up any kind of attack coming their way. Their performance becomes even more impressive when it’s taken into account that NYC’s two strongest defensive midfielders are injured, in Keaton Parks and Alfredo Morales.
Haak was the stronger of the two Sunday night and if he can continue to turn in performances like he did Sunday night, then that could change the outlook on this team going forward. No one can truly replace Parks’ contributions both defensively and offensively by springing attacks forward. However, with Santiago Rodriguez stepping up his game as a distributor, all that’s left to do is to lock down the defensive work.
The hope is that Haak and Acevedo can continue to turn in quality performances like they did Sunday night because they’re pretty much the last option for NYC. With the building list of injuries, now including Maxi Moralez and Gedion Zelalem, Haak and Acevedo are just about the last two healthy midfielders left.
NYCFC, Gabriel Pereira 16’
NYCFC, Santiago Rodriguez 46’
Chicago, Rafael Czichos, foul, yellow card, 18’
Chicago, Carlos Terán, foul, yellow card, 60’
NYCFC, Santiago Rodriguez, not retreating, yellow card, 72’
Chicago, Miguel Navarro, dissent, yellow card, 77’
Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Assistant Referees: Logan Brown, Kevin Lock
Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos
VAR Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant VAR Referee: Fabio Tovar