New York City F.C. won their first match of the season on Saturday, but they must carry the momentum into Wednesday’s visit from Chicago.
You could argue and claim that April 21 was the happiest day of the year so far for New York City F.C.
They won their first game of the year, blanking D.C. United, 2-0. This victory came after a rough five-match winless run to start the 2019 MLS season.
The victory goes beyond three points. NYCFC was last in the Eastern Conference going into Washington. Meanwhile, D.C. United topped the table with 12 points.
The club’s two new stars were on target. Alexandru Mitrita netted his second MLS goal while Héber Araújo dos Santos notched his first goal and assist in a New York jersey in his first NYCFC start.
Furthermore, the back four was especially proficient on Sunday, shutting D.C. out. That’s good news for a team whose defense has been disappointing in the early going. It was easily The Pigeons’ best defensive performance of the season.
NYCFC fans were understandably over the moon:
— Stefan Smith (@Stefan_Smith_) April 22, 2019
Calls for the firing of head coach Domenec Torrent went silent, if only temporarily. The coach was thrilled for his players
“Today, (we) deserved to win this game because I know how hard they work every single day at our facility,” Torrent said in a post-game interview, per team reporter Simreen Kheraj.
The players were likewise pleased. Right back Anton Tinnerholm told reporters that after a win you feel “pure happiness” in a post-match interview.
Saturday was truly a happy day for the blue side of New York. Fans are looking for an encore.
How sweet it is! Need more of this!!
— actschaefer (@actschaefer) April 22, 2019
NYCFC’s next match comes on Wednesday at home against the Chicago Fire (7:00 p.m. ET, YES). Another victory will assure fans the feeling that Saturday wasn’t a mirage, but a sign of turning the corner. There’s no better place to do it than Yankee Stadium’s converted outfield.
Not only will Wednesday mark NYCFC’s first home game since April 6, but the team will also celebrate Bronx Borough night. The first 10,000 fans will get a free collectible pin. New York’s Bravest and Finest will usher the players on the field, while The Bronx’s own Renaissance Youth Choir will perform the national anthem.
New York’s players will undoubtedly yearn to give their fans a victory on such a special night. NYCFC hasn’t won a competitive match at home in almost half a year.
A win will no doubt build on to Saturday’s momentum. Though it’s early in the season, three points will lift New York up to a precious playoff spot.
A loss, however, will give the fans a foreboding feeling that the Washington visit was a fluke and could push the club right back to last. Early struggles have put NYCFC are in a tight spot.
New York defeated Chicago, 2-0 in their last encounter in The Bronx in September. Chicago currently sits in seventh in the East with a 2-3-2 mark. They defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-1 at home on Saturday.
Chicago plays with one striker, which could make things easier for The Pigeons’ backline. However, the Fire’s lone striker, Nemanja Nikolic, has found the net in each of the team’s last three outings. Chicago also recently added ex-Argentine international playmaker Nicolas Gaitan to their roster.
Mitrita is questionable to play for New York on Wednesday due to an ankle injury. The Romanian leads the club in shots on target, hitting the ball on frame 10 times. He is also tied for the team-lead in goals, finding the net twice thus far. His absence could be costly for New York.
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, another player with two goals, is likewise questionable due to an ankle injury.
In a positive New York development, midfielder Valentine “Taty” Castellanos is ready to return after suffering a concussion two weeks ago against Minnesota United.
Heber could also be fit enough to play 90 minutes. The Brazilian has yet to play a whole match after joining the club from his offseason. He played 63 minutes on Saturday in Washington, his first victory with the club.
Heber must experience another MLS win. As a matter of fact, the whole club needs to enjoy another victory after such a painful start of the season.
The blue momentum must continue on Wednesday. Fans don’t want to go home with just a Bronx pin … they want a win to go with it.