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Jones, Shore impress in NYCFC II's season-opening loss

The Baby Blues erased a two-goal deficit only for Inter Miami CF II to score the game-winner in the 82nd minute.

MLS SuperDraft pick Malachi Jones is making a case for himself | Courtesy New York City FC

New York City FC II reversed a two-goal first-half deficit before falling 3-2 to an 82nd-minute Inter Miami II winner in their MLS NEXT Pro season opener. NYCFC II fielded an especially young squad that included 16-year-old Jacob Arroye, 16-year-old Maximo Carrizo, and 15-year-old Jonathan Shore — who went on to score the first goal of the 2024 season.

The Baby Blues started slowly, conceding a penalty in the eighth minute via a handball by 18-year-old center-back Alexander Hauschild. Miami’s Santiago Morales converted the spot kick to give Miami the 1-0 lead. Leonardo Alfonso doubled Miami’s tally three minutes later, capitalizing on NYCFC II’s poor attempt at an offside trap, before slotting the ball in the bottom left corner of Tomás Romero’s net.

NYCFC II’s high line was a source of trouble. It allowed Miami to counter with man-advantages multiple times. The 2-0 halftime score was indicative of Miami’s first-half dominance: They held 57% possession and had five shots, three of which were on target. The baby Blues had just two shots, with only one on target.

So close

But NYCFC II hit back three minutes into the second half as Jonathon Shore drove down the left before catching the Miami keeper out at his front post. Shore played an excellent game, combining with NYCFC’s draft pick Malachi Jones down the left flank all second half.

The Baby Blues continued to dominate in their search for the tying goal, which came in the 73rd minute. Second-half substitute Ronald Arevalo tapped the ball in following a point-blank save of a header from JJ Jimenez, the other second-half substitute.

The score was short-lived. Miami’s Leanardo Aflonso scored his second of the game in the 82nd minute, firing a shot from the top of the box into the bottom right corner of Romero’s net. NYCFC II failed to show any threat again even after Miami went down to ten men when Ricardo Montenegro registered his second yellow of the match.

Miami finished the match with 52% possession and 11 shots, 7 of which were on target. NYCFC had 16 shots, 9 of which were on target.
The game was one of two very different halves. Fatigue in the 90-degree heat had taken a toll on the players by the end.

Ones to watch: Malachi Jones and Jonathan Shore

Individually, Malachi Jones showcased an excellent drive as he demonstrated his skill when taking on defenders. His final product wasn’t fully there, however his talent was obvious. If the winger spots on the New York City FC First Team weren’t so competitive, he would be a contender for minutes in head coach Nick Cushing’s squad.

Homegrown Shore also showcased his talent, as he consistently worked with Jones to build attacks down the left flank. Given his age, his time with the first team is still a couple of years away. However, he is a name to remember moving forward.

NYCFC II will next take on FC Motown of the National Premier Soccer League this Thursday when the Baby Blues make their US Open Cup debut.