New York City FC notched another huge win to keep their playoff hopes alive for another week, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 3-2 Saturday night.
By Jeff Weisinger
Finally, after months and months of struggling, New York City midfielder Ned Grabavoy found the back of the net, scoring his first two goals of the season as New York City FC notched a crucial three points in their 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night in the Bronx.
After both teams played an aggressive but scoreless first half, Grabavoy opened his goal tally on the season, scoring on a deflection off a San Jose defender in the 51st minute. His second goal, however, was the highlight of the night and could be a sign of the Blues nearly getting the right rhythm in their attack.
“He works extremely hard,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “Tonight we’re pleased to see him get a couple of goals.
Lampard hit a perfect cross to Grabavoy on the left side of Quakes keeper David Bingham’s net and he headed it in downward to put NYCFC up 2-0 in the 63rd minute.
“In the last three games I think I’ve found myself counted on to be one of the first three, four guys in the box,” he explained after the game. “The last three games or so, I’ve made it a point to run, or really get in the box, get around the front two, three guys and help make plays.”
The brace was Grabavoy’s first since May 19, 2013 when he scored a pair with Real Salt Lake in a 4-1 win over the Chicago Fire.
“It’s great, it’s brilliant, a testament to his professionalism,” Lampard, who earned the assist on Grabavoy’s second goal, said. “I’ve seen him train and the way he carries himself, a squad player. When he’s not playing, a great attitude and when he plays he works for the team. He got what he deserved today.”
Captain David Villa who returned to the lineup a week after injuring his hamstring at FC Dallas last Saturday, scored just a minute after Grabavoy’s second goal, heading in an Angelino cross back across the frame and inside Bingham’s far post.
The goal was Villa’s 16th on the season. He’s third in the league in goals scored behind Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco (19) and Columbus’ Kei Kamara (21).
“I thought [Villa] was really good,” Kreis said. “He looked really focused tonight, like he was intent on making things happening and doing whatever he could for the team. Obviously the goal was nice, but the assist was equally as nice, the pass to Ned, the way he placed the ball, putting it right in front of him was perfect.”
NYCFC took a 3-0 lead after the 64th minute, however wouldn’t hold the shutout for long after.
Quincy Amarikwa headed in a poor header from Lampard on a Matias Perez Garcia corner in the 72nd minute and Chris Wondolowski scored on a penalty kick in the lower-left side of NYC keeper Josh Saunders’ net to pull the Quakes back to 3-2 after the 75th minute. Both Amarikwa and Wondolowski had opportunities to tie the match at three apiece late, however neither were able to find the back of the net, even within Saunders’ six-yard box.
“We could’ve done a lot better job of closing that game out,” Kreis added.
Wondolowski’s goal on the penalty kick tied him with Kreis on the league’s all-time goal-scoring list at 108.
Both Lampard and Andrea Pirlo have continued to look sharper and Saturday was just another step forward in MLS for the two designated players. Lampard had the assist on Grabavoy’s second goal and Pirlo set up the NYCFC attack time and time again throughout the match.
“I think it all comes down to them,” Kreis explained on Lampard and Pirlo’s improved play. “It has nothing to do with me or the coaching staff, those guys are born competitors. It’s a matter of time until they’re really on top of their game and contributing in massive ways for us.”
Pirlo nearly scored an olimpico in the first minute of the second half stoppage time, however the ball on the corner kick just skid off the top corner of the post. He also nearly had an assist just before the half, finding Andrew Jacobson in the box, however Jacobson’s header also went off of the far post.
As far as the Blues playoff hopes are concerned, tonight would’ve helped immensely, however both Montreal and Orlando City won their matches Saturday night, so the standings remain the same. NYCFC is still in eighth place in the East, a point behind Orlando and two behind Montreal, who also has three games in-hand.
Lampard and Grabavoy, along with the rest of NYCFC know that the only way for them to have a shot at a playoff berth is for them to handle their side of business and continue to win out.
“We can only control ourselves,” Grabavoy said. “Obviously, we’re going to need some help from some other teams, but for me – two three weeks ago we could’ve laid down and died and we’ve done the opposite. That’s the most positive thing.”
“That might still not be enough, but we can certainly hold our heads up high with the way we’re playing at the minute,” Lampard explained. “If we continue that until the end of the season and win all of our games, we’ll give ourselves a fair chance.”
All info acquired first-hand by Jeff Weisinger
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