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Three first-half goals carry NYCFC to victory over Orlando

New York City's trio of early goals was just enough to earn them a 4-2 win in a game marred by a gruesome collision between Malachi Jones and Orlando goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar.

Another goal at Yankee Stadium for Trapito | Photo © Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC ended a three-match losing streak thanks to a dominant first half which saw them take a 3-0 lead into halftime.

It ended a 4-2 New York City win after Orlando City SC carried the bulk of the action in the second half and managed to pull within one late, only for substitute striker Mounsef Bakrar to restore the two-goal cushion with a neatly-taken goal, just his second in 16 appearances.

The match was marred by a horror collision between Malachi Jones and Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar, with both players sustaining serious lower leg injuries and needing to be carted off the Yankee Stadium field, ultimately taken to local hospitals for further evaluation and treatment.

The clash and its aftermath meant 13 minutes of stoppage time was added before halftime, and New York City struck twice in those final minutes. Hannes Wolf had a deflected shot find its way into the back of the net at 45'+4' and Agustín Ojeda turned home a pinpoint cross at 45'+12', with both goals assisted by right-back Tayvon Gray.

It got very shaky for New York City after halftime, with Orlando putting seven shots on target and getting two late goals from Dagur Thorhallsson and Duncan McGuire.

Ultimately, it was another NYCFC win at home, their seventh of the season, the second most home victories in MLS behind LAFC and their eight.


New York City: 14 shots, 6 shots on target, 54.3% possession, 599 passes, 85.6% pass accuracy, 12 fouls, 6 saves

Orlando: 15 shots, 8 shots on target, 45.7% possession, 531 passes, 81.9% pass accuracy, 10 fouls, 2 saves

• New York City, Santiago Rodríguez, 15'
New York City, Hannes Wolf, 45'+4'
New York City, Agustín Ojeda, 45'+12'
Orlando, Dagur Thorhallsson, 72'
Orlando, Duncan McGuire, 90'+2'

Attendance: 21,447

Gray the playmaker

Tayvon Gray, originally from the Bronx in case you forgot, had his best game of the season against Orlando in his home borough.

His two assists in the first half made the difference in the win, and Gray also was credited with five chances created. The Jamaican right-back also put in a strong defensive showing that saw him tally seven interceptions, six recoveries, one block, and two tackles won, all according to FotMob's match stats.

Gray's assist to Hannes Wolf was a clever one, with Gray getting the best of Orlando's Ivan Angulo while pursuing a long diagonal pass from Santiago Rodríguez that looked destined to go over the end line and out for a goal kick. Instead, Gray won the ball, played a pass into Wolf's path, and the Austrian's shot glanced in to make it 2-0.

Assist two came after Gray was picked out with a line-splitting pass from Thiago Martins ("secondary assist" recipient), with Gray teeing up an unmarked Agustín Ojeda for a back-post finish.

That second half...

The Ojeda goal made it 3-0, the lead New York City took into halftime. The first half had been all NYCFC, with Nick Cushing's team having the bulk of the possession while taking 11 shots and scoring those three goals.

The script flipped dramatically after halftime, with Orlando seeming to have shaken off the rough scenes that surrounded their starting goalkeeper and his horrific leg injury. They pinned New York City back and peppered Matt Freese's goal with shots, working to find their way back into a game they seemed out of after one half.

Cushing tried to stem the purple tide by making two changes in his midfield in the 69th minute, removing Santi Rodríguez—who scored a sensational goal from distance in the 15th minute that shouldn't be overlooked—for Maxi Moralez, and Keaton Parks for Andrés Perea.

Orlando's first goal arrived three minutes after that midfield switch, with Dagur Thorhallsson directing a header into the far corner. Orlando had other chances to get a second, then did thanks to a gaffe at the back by Hannes Wolf, who almost picked up an own goal but instead helped set Duncan McGuire up to make it 3-2 and make for a nervy final few minutes in the Bronx.

A Mounsef moment?

The New York City nerves got soothed when Mounsef Bakrar pulled off an excellent bit of skill to get back onto the scoresheet.

The touch to evade the Orlando defender, then the accuracy and power of the curled finish: It's why Bakrar continues to get minutes and chances from Cushing and his coaching staff.

James Sands earned an assist on that goal, his first of the season and second ever in his New York City FC career, but the skill of Mounsef Bakrar made it all possible. The question with Bakrar remains if he'll be able to make plays like this happen with some level of consistency.

Bakrar came off the bench tonight after starting in Nashville and Los Angeles and looked rejuvenated, back to his more usual active, aggressive self when pressing the Orlando defense, and when trying to run in behind it toward goal.

Alonso Martínez, in the Starting XI as the striker of choice against Orlando, had a solid match himself, credited with an assist on Santi Rodríguez's early opener while taking six shots.

Nick Cushing is still waiting for someone to emerge as his numbers-producing striker, and the individual moment of brilliance from Bakrar adds yet another twist to the ongoing soap opera that is As the New York City Strikers Turn.

• New York City, Matt Freese, yellow card, poor sportsmanship, 78'
New York City, Thiago Martins, yellow card, poor sportsmanship, 78'

• Referee: Sergii Boiko
• Assistant referees: Ian Mckay, Brian Dunn
• Fourth official: Elvis Osmanovic
• VAR: Daniel Radford
• Assistant VAR: Jonathan Johnson