Give credit for the stoppage-time goal that let New York City FC steal a draw against Columbus Crew to the skill of substitute striker Gabriel Segal. The 22-year-old chested an arcing ball down and to the outside, away from pressure, then quickly fired off left-footed shot that found the back of the net.
It was a finish that was as cool-headed as it was vicious. Let’s rewatch it together:
Segal was primed and ready for anything that might come his way: That was skill. But when you look at the shot from a different angle you see that the shot takes a sharp deflection off the boot of Columbus wingback Mohamed Farsi that redirected the ball past goalkeeper Patrick Schulte. That was lucky.
But the play leading up to it was pure luck. Richy Ledezma received the ball in midfield and seemingly tried to switch play by launching it to Stephen Turnbull on the right side of the field. But the ball ricocheted off a Columbus player, took to the sky, and went on a 270˚ journey before landing neatly on the chest of Segal just inside the penalty box.
As they say, it was straight from the training ground:
It lucky that they were on the field at all. Both Segal and Ledezma were playing because of late substitutions made by head coach Nick Cushing. When Segal was brought on for Talles Magno, a league-minimum $63,670 striker replaced a $1.2 million Designated Player. At the same time, Ledezma was brought on for the more defensive-minded Alfredo Morales. It feels fair to see that Cushing wasn’t setting up a tactical finish to the game as much as he was rolling the dice.
The fact is, NYCFC have been short on both luck and skill lately. While this point is better than a loss, New York City are still winless in their ten games in all competitions. If a little more luck and skill had fallen NYCFC’s way they could have beaten New England Revolution last week, or Orlando City back in May. A little less bad luck (read: if the officiating had been competent) and New York City could have gotten a result against FC Cincinnati at home, or New Jersey Red Bulls on the road.
Don’t underestimate the power of luck and skill. Cincinnati sit on top of the Supporters’ Shield race thanks to the abilities of their players, and the knack they have for the ball to bounce their way when it counts most. It comes as a relief for the NYCFC faithful to finally have a little bit of luck and skill on your side.
We’ll note here that Ledezma didn’t get credit for the assist. It’s a shame, even unlucky.