— New York City FC (@NYCFC) August 19, 2018
NYCFC struggle on the road, losing to the Philadelphia Union. The Bronx Blues now sit at third place in the Eastern Conference.
If you ever needed evidence of the thin line that separates teams from victory and defeat, Saturday night’s match between NYCFC and the Philadephia Union was just that.
In a rare defeat where the cause was not for lack of effort, the Bronx Blues just could not convert early chances in a back-and-forth game that was very entertaining for the supporters.
Dome Torrent started the match with Jo-Inge Berget on the wing as part of an attacking front three that included David Villa and the recently in-form Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. Ben Sweat and Maxime Chanot were selected in the back four, which represented changes from the Toronto FC game where NYCFC gave up two goals to a side with only ten men.
For 90 minutes there was an even pace to the game. Both sides were aggressive and intent on being positive with their movement. And despite his reputation as more a plodding striker who holds up play, Berget played well.
Berget was diligent with his defensive responsibilities and he demonstrated confidence in taking on defenders one-on-one.
31. Another chance for City!
? 0-0 ? pic.twitter.com/GMoNP9hsg2
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) August 18, 2018
In the first half, the Cityzens had at least four wasted chances that could have put them in the lead. Most notably, Maxi Moralez squandered two great opportunities, showing a little lack of nerve and clinical finishing in front of goal. Villa and Tajouri-Shradi were unlucky to receive assists in both situations, as they all but set the table for the veteran Argentine.
For a squad looking for their first set of back-to-back road wins since 2017, NYCFC was forced a little out of their comfort zone by the Union.
City usually enjoys a lopsided victory in possession, yet the Union were neck and neck with them by half-time. The attacking trio of David Accam, Cory Burke, and C.J. Sapong looked dangerous throughout the match, coming close to breaking the deadlock on several occasions.
20. Finding his range… ?@Guaje7Villa with the chop and the ? to get away from his man and test Blake.
? 0-0 ? pic.twitter.com/kfBsvzcPvU
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) August 18, 2018
Behind the scenes, Borek Dockal, played the role of the marionettist, pulling the strings and leading the Union to 48.8% possession, just shy of NYCFC who managed to hold onto the ball for 51.2% of the first half. Both sides were tied with five shots total and two shots on goal.
But despite the lack of scoring, it was the Union that looked the more likely side to break away. Drawing energy from their crowd, NYCFC needed to make adjustments at the half in order to stay afloat.
On a side note, the commentators, Ian Joy and Joe Tolleson briefly discussed a rumor that had placed young starlet Jesus Medina in the sights of French club Nice, who recently hired Patrick Viera as their manager.
Joy quickly refuted the rumor, explaining that he had spoken with someone within the organization who shot down the claims, saying that they were false.
Medina had been left on the bench for the start of this match, which raised some questions, yet with a derby match against Redbulls on the horizon, Torrent may have looked to conserve his firepower for Wednesday night.
In the second half, the good pace continued, but the Union were in the driver’s seat. Philly’s first goal came at the foot of Burke with an assist from Dockal. Unfortunately, Anton Tinnerholm appeared out of position, and by the time he recovered, Burke had already slotted his first goal of the game past the diving Sean Johnson.
This Burke #DOOP was all that & a bag of chips ?
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) August 19, 2018
Philly’s one-touch passing in the final third was impressive. Make no mistake, this was not necessarily a poor defensive showing from City. The back four generally looked good with some lapses in key moments.
Torrent eventually called on Medina, Ronald Matarita, and Rodney Wallace in an attempt to get more attacking players on the field. City also employed a back three for much of the second half.
But nothing short of a brick wall could have stopped Ilsinho when he was subbed on in the 68th minute. The 32-year old Brazilian dribbled through two defenders, making Sweat look like a lawn chair, on his way to scoring the second goal of the match.
You oughta know, Ilsinho's up for @MLS Goal of the Week!
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) August 20, 2018
It was curtains for City and they knew it. Matarrita let his temper and emotions get the best of him, fouling Ilsinho, and then cleating him in the groin/chest for which he received a straight red card.
The Bronx Blues eventually finished the match playing with nine men, as Medina appeared to pick up a hamstring injury late in the game. It’s doubtful that he will be ready for Wednesday night when NYCFC take on the Redbulls in the Bronx.
The loss drops NYCFC to third in the table and one point behind Redbulls. Redbulls also have a game in hand, but all bets will be off when these two rivals get together at Yankee Stadium.
- Score Philadelphia Union 2 – NYCFC 0
- Shots Philadelphia Union 13 – NYCFC 9
- Possession Philadelphia Union 50.5% – NYCFC 49.5%