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Friday Night Lights: New York City FC score late, dominate San Jose

Maxi Moralez returned to the field in a masterful substitute appearance, and NYCFC broke open a close match after scoring four goals in 15 minutes.

Looking good, feeling good | © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

All the signs were pointing towards a memorable match ahead of kickoff Friday night.

Riding a four-match win streak, New York City FC needed to dispatch the lowly San Jose Earthquakes to make it five in a row, and they did so commandingly, with the help of a familiar face in midfield. With four goals scored after the 80th minute, the Boys in Blue notched a 5-1 win — and gave fans plenty to cheer about in the Boogie Down Bronx.


New York City: 20 shots, 7 shots on target, 57.4% possession, 559 passes, 86% pass accuracy, 14 fouls, 2 saves

SJ Earthquakes: 12 shots, 3 shots on target, 42.6% possession, 391 passes, 77.5% pass accuracy, 8 fouls, 6 saves

• New York City, Hannes Wolf, 50'
• San Jose, Amahl Pellegrino, 53'
• New York City, Santi Rodriguez, 80'
• New York City, Alonso Martinez, 85'
• New York City, Alonso Martinez, 90'+2
• New York City, Alonso Martinez, 90'+5

Attendance: 20,188

That emphatic scoreline overshadows a scoreless first half. NYCFC's xG of 0.96 in the first 45' towered over the 0.06 xG for San Jose, and it was a surprise to all in attendance to see that the score was 0-0. Yet, inconsistency in front of goal hindered New York City once again, who managed to place just one of their nine shots on target.

This would make way for a drastically different second half, with the goal rush coming after head coach Nick Cushing brought on substitutes Maxi Moralez and Alonso Martínez. They took the game by the scruff of the neck and gave the 20,000 fans in attendance a night they won't soon forget.

Courtesy g+ GameFlow
New York City 5 - 1 San Jose: Rate the players
It was a gorgeous night in the Bronx as New York City FC won their fifth game in a row: NYCFC now have the best run of form in MLS.

A new challenger for the No 9 role

Coming off the bench in the 58th minute with the score tied at one apiece, 25-year-old forward Martínez had one job: Get on the score sheet.

And he did just that, not once, not twice, but three times. With goals in the 85th, 92nd, and 95th minutes, it was the fastest hat trick in club history, and the first to be scored by a New York City substitute.

Martínez now leads all MLS players with 1.35 goals per 90 minutes. Lionel Messi, in third place, has 1.05 goals per 90 minutes.

Martínez came on for 18-year-old striker Jovan Mijatović, who made his second start of the year. Regular starting striker Mounsef Bakrar is away on international duty with the Algeria national team, but neither player has laid claim to the No 9 position. The two have combined for 1 goal and 0 assists in 1109 minutes.

That makes the subject of New York City's No 9 role up for serious debate. With Martínez's 6 goals in 399 minutes, Cushing has more to think about moving forward. Both Bakrar and Mijatović were high-profile signings, but Martínez is now the team's leading goal-scorer, and the most clinical finisher on the squad.

When asked about this post-game, Cushing had this to say:

“What Alonso has done tonight is give himself more than half a chance to be in the team," Cushing said. "The hardest part of my job is picking the team.”

All eyes will be on Martinez in training during the upcoming bye-week. With Cushing's reputation for tinkering with his lineups, the expectation is that we will see a new lineup on June 14th vs the Columbus Crew on Matchday 17.

A hero's welcome for a returning legend

"He's the greatest player to have ever played for our football club." Those were the words used to describe Maxi Moralez by Cushing was asked about following the Argentine's impressive second-half cameo vs San Jose.

Moralez, who came on as a substitute in the 74th minute, made his first appearance since September 2023, having been sidelined with an ACL injury. With his jersey plastered all over the New York City FC social channels, teasing his return, the Argentine received a hero's welcome once he returned to the pitch. The crowd took to their feet when the 37-year-old stepped on the pitch, and passionately cheered their hero from seasons past.

Once on the field, it was as if Moralez had never left the side. He slotted into the No 10 role, and took over control of the game with ease.

The playmaker completed 100% of his passes, created three chances, and provided an 85th-minute assist that Martínez scored, and that took San Jose out of the game. It was the cherry on top of a fairytale comeback for one of the club's all-time greats.

With his assist to Martínez, Moralez extends his all-time assist record to 70 for New York City FC, 33 more than second-place Santi Rodriguez (27), who bagged a goal and an assist himself in his 100th appearance for the club.

Win streak continues to grow

New York City FC's dominant win over San Jose marked the club's fifth straight MLS win, which equals the club's record-win streak, heading into the international break.

It caps a remarkable turnaround to the year. After starting the season with zero points from the first three games, New York City FC now sit third in the MLS Eastern Conference – and fourth in the Supporters' Shield race – with 29 points. New York City now have nine wins after 16 games, which makes this start of the season one of the strongest in club history.

2024 9 2 5 29 24 17 7
2023 4 5 7 17 17 22 -5
2022 8 4 4 28 31 17 14
2021 8 3 5 27 30 16 14
2020 8 2 6 26 21 13 8
2019 7 8 1 29 30 19 11
2018 9 4 3 31 32 21 11
2017 8 3 5 27 29 20 9
2016 5 6 5 21 25 31 -4
2015 4 5 7 17 16 16 0

Friday night's win over San Jose was the club's 8th win in 10 games, having only lost one match since April 6th, that being the 2-0 loss at home to the Colorado Rapids on May 5th.

Over their last five games, New York City FC have been the most in-form team in the MLS, with no other team winning more than four straight during May.

Following the international break, New York City will take on the Columbus Crew back at Yankee Stadium on June 14th to mark the midpoint in the season. Then the team will embark on six away trips in their following eight league games, as the MLS summer kicks into high gear.

• New York City, Julián Fernández, yellow card, foul 15′
• New York City, Strahinja Tanasijević, yellow card, foul 17′
• SJ Earthquakes, Jackson Yueill, yellow card, foul 23′
• New York City, James Sands, yellow card, foul 60′

• Referee: Mark Allatin
• Assistant referees: Jeremy Kieso, Adam Wienckowski
• Fourth official: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
• VAR: Daniel Radford