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Hannes Wolf wonder-strike earns NYCFC second straight away win

New York City scored twice in the first half and persevered through a 24-shot Philadelphia Union barrage (and a prolonged raccoon delay) to walk out of Pennsylvania victorious.

© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Not even a raccoon delay could deny New York City FC a second consecutive away victory, with two first-half strikes enough for NYCFC to earn a tight 2-1 win over Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on Matchday 13.

The visitors jumped in front almost instantly in Chester, Pennsylvania, with Alonso Martínez scoring in the second minute after he was found accurately by Santiago Rodríguez as part of a clinical counterattacking move sprung by ex-Union, current New York City midfielder Andrés Perea.

Hannes Wolf, who we now know is one of the highest-paid non-Designated Players in MLS, produced a sensational free-kick strike right before halftime for what ended up being the match's winning goal.

First a raccoon, then a Wolf
Midfielder Hannes Wolf is growing into his role at New York City FC, and could become one of the best creators in MLS.

The Union, losers of three straight home matches entering the meeting with New York City, threw everything they had at the proverbial wall in search of a positive result in front of their home fans.

Philadelphia attempted 24 shots, and drew within one goal of New York City almost instantly after the second half began, with Julián Carranza delivering an unstoppable strike from some distance off a free-kick routine in the 47th minute to make it a slim 2-1 New York City lead.

That lead stood up thanks to a few strong Matt Freese saves, as per usual, and despite a late flurry from Philadelphia. There was a potential last-gasp equalizer by Jack Elliott in the 90'+4' correctly disallowed by the linesman due to Daniel Gazdag veering into an offside position in the build-up, a relief for NYCFC and further disappointment for its Keystone State rivals.


New York City: 11 shots, 7 shots on target, 42.8% possession, 331 passes, 78% pass accuracy, 10 fouls, 4 saves

Philadelphia: 24 shots, 5 shots on target, 57.2% possession, 453 passes, 84.1% pass accuracy, 10 fouls, 5 saves

• New York City, Alonso Martínez, 2'
New York City, Hannes Wolf, 45'+2'
Philadelphia, Julián Carranza, 47'

Attendance: 18,531

Signing of the season

Hannes Wolf had his best performance of the season in the fight-marred win in Ontario over Toronto FC this past weekend, picking up two well-crafted assists while also earning his team a penalty kick in the wild 3-2 victory.

Yet he saved something special for the midweek trip to Pennsylvania, scoring a sensational goal on a free kick to open his New York City FC scoring account.

As HRB executive editor Oliver Strand pointed out in his post-match reaction focused on Wolf, this may have been a cross, or it may have been a shot, or perhaps even a shass—but whatever the intent, the result was a perfect left-footed strike that eluded Union goalkeeper Oliver Semmle and found the top corner.

Wolf now has one goal and three assists in 13 appearances for New York City, with all four of his direct goal contributions occurring across his five most recent appearances for his new club. The attacking midfielder ranks second in MLS with nine big chances created, and is tied for ninth in the league with 3.3 expected assists (xA), per the latest FotMob rankings.

The 25-year-old Austrian is in a red-hot stretch of form at this moment, looking well worth that $1.4 million annual salary.

Courtesy of g+ GameFlow on Mastodon.

Thanks for the reinforcements

The two former members of the Philadelphia Union who suited up for New York City FC at Subaru Park played important roles in the NYCFC victory.

Andrés Perea, loaned to New York City late last summer and acquired permanently in exchange for a heap of allocation money before the 2024 season, would have had a "secondary assist" on the opening goal if those were still a thing, smartly playing a long pass upfield into open space for Santiago Rodríguez to run onto.

That move ended with Martínez's clinical opening goal, but Perea also dominated in the midfield duels on the night, winning 12 duels (six ground duels, six aerial duels) while successfully winning all three of his tackle attempts, per FotMob.

It was a solid showing for Perea as a fill-in for usual defensive midfielder James Sands, who was not included in Nick Cushing's matchday squad, perhaps because he sits one yellow card away from an automatic suspension.

The other ex-DOOPer, Matt Freese, has been a stalwart for New York City all season long, and again made a handful of key saves to ensure his team walked away with maximum points.

His stops on Carranza in the ninth minute and Kai Wagner in the 36th minute were vital at times when NYCFC still clung to just a one-goal lead, with the Union playing uphill and chasing the visitors after three minutes of game action.

Freese waited for his chance for years behind Andre Blake, the Union's star between the sticks who is currently unavailable due to an injury. Freese's performance as a starter back in Chester, Pennsylvania was a continuation of what's been an exemplary first season entrenched as New York City's No 1 keeper.

Freese sits in the MLS Top 5 in numerous goalkeeper stat categories: Save percentage (4th, 76.6%), saves per 90 minutes (4th, 3.8 saves/90), goals prevented (2nd, 5.4), all per FotMob. The moves to acquire both Perea and Freese have been inspired successes for New York City and sporting director David Lee, with each player showcasing their abilities throughout the win at Subaru Park, much to the chagrin of the Union faithful.

Philadelphia 1 - 2 New York City: Rate the players
NYCFC log their second consecutive road win for the first time since July 17, 2022.

Unexpected striker solution?

Alonso Martínez has gone from an afterthought to the best solution to date that New York City has found for its striker woes.

It's now been five NYCFC goals scored across two away matches while Mounsef Bakrar and Jovan Mijatović, presumed Options A and B at striker, have combined to play just 23 minutes (all by Bakrar, as a substitute in Chester, PA).

Martínez, a winger through most of his career, has taken to life as a newly-converted striker, collecting his third goal of 2024 by doing what Bakrar has constantly been unable to do this season: Get his finish correct at the vital moment.

Doubtful that the New York City braintrust would have expected to get zero goals scored through 13 matches from two players, Bakrar and Mijatović, expected to lead the line this season. That role has now been held by an unlikely player for two straight matches and two straight wins, with Alonso Martínez proving the value of patience, and especially the value of a player who knows innately how to score goals.

Derby momentum

This week looked set to be a gauntlet for New York City, two tough away trips to Eastern Conference rivals, testy matches played in places where NYCFC wins have been scarce.

Thus far, it's been two resilient, impressive victories, setting the stage for one of the juicier Hudson River Derby matchups in recent memory.

Both New York City and the Red Bulls head to Citi Field fresh off impressive away wins against regional and historic rivals, with Red Bull earning a 1-4 win away in the Atlantic Cup against DC United.

Saturday's match at Citi Field now looms as a showdown between the No 3 and No 4 clubs in the current Eastern Conference table, with each team riding high off the backs of two straight victories.

New York City struts into its latest rivalry match much like Raquinho the Raccoon strutted around the Subaru Park pitch for two minutes, though NYCFC will be hoping to avoid his fate on Saturday, hoping to avoid experiencing a hypothetical trashcan entrapment at Citi Field when the Red Bulls cross the Hudson River.

© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
• Philadelphia, Kai Wagner, yellow card, foul 45'
New York City, Santiago Rodríguez, yellow card, poor sportsmanship 51'
New York City, Agustín Ojeda, yellow card, foul 62'
Philadelphia, Jack Elliott, yellow card, foul 71'
New York City, Andrés Pera, yellow card, poor sportsmanship 78'
New York City, Mounsef Bakrar, yellow card, foul 87'
New York City, Malachi Jones, yellow card, poor sportsmanship 90'

• Referee: Chris Penso
• Assistant referees: Cory Richardson, Brooke Mayo
• Fourth official: Joshua Encarnacion
• VAR: Jorge Gonzalez