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New York City FC earn 1-1 Draw Against Atlanta United

New York City FC prior to match v Toronto FC. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495 Sports

New York City FC entered this one looking to shake off the US Open Cup defeat to Red Bulls in midweek and continue their 100% record at Yankee Stadium in 2018.

To accomplish that, they would have to overcome an Atlanta United side sitting pretty at the top of the MLS Supporters Shield table.

It was the second meeting between the sides this season following the hugely entertaining 2-2 tie at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in April and this one started in similar fashion.

City dominated the first period, immediately setting about piling forward and asking questions of an increasingly creaking Atlanta backline.

A credible early penalty appeal was turned away after Jo Inge Berget was thrown to the ground on 6’ as the Norwegian looked to latch upon a superb volleyed cross from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Vieira’s men kept their foot to the accelerator and an excellent press from Maxi Moralez almost gave us the day’s first goal on 27’ as the Argentine strode clear and attempted to round the goalkeeper but Brad Guzan extended his arm and made his first (and not last) excellent save.

The USMNT ‘keeper was at his best again three minutes later, tipping over David Villa’s deflected, goalbound strike.

The first 30’ of the half belonged to NYCFC but Atlanta came back into the encounter in the final 15’ of the half, trading charges and counter charges, although the visitors were unable to work Sean Johnson at all in the first period.

That changed three minutes into the first period when Martinez scored with Atlanta’s first shot on frame, an inch-perfect downward header from a Julian Gressel cross.

It was against the run of play but City didn’t allow it to throw them off their stride, laying siege to the Five Stripes’ goal in search of the equalizer.

Unsurprisingly, Villa looked like the home team’s likeliest goal threat, forcing multiple saves from Guzan and hitting the inside of the post, in between what looked like a handball from Darlington Nagbe in the penalty box – again, the referee waved away the protests.

Jonathan Lewis and Jesus Medina were introduced from the bench to try and rescue the undefeated home record but it was Alexander Callens who finally broke the Atlanta resistance on 77′, diving in to head in the equalizer from a Villa flick-on.

There were plenty of chances for a winning goal for the home team, with Moralez having City’s best and final opportunity in the dying seconds but, summing up the day, his shot beat Guzan, hit the inside of the post, and rolled along the goalline – ultimately away from harm…

It just wouldn’t go in for a second time!


  • NYCFC’s all-time record vs. Atlanta United now stands at P4 W1 L1 D2
  • Alexander Callens scored his second goal for NYCFC
  • Sean Johnson passed 20,000 minutes in MLS in the 44th minute
  • City took 25 shots to Atlanta’s 6, with 10 on target vs. 2





On the opportunity for three points in today’s match and only coming out with one…


“Yeah, we were unlucky. There’s no doubt about it. I think Guzan was fantastic – I think he was the man of the match. But overall when we look at the first half and the second half, I think that was what I was expecting from the players. I think we had a solid game, we had a professional game where we respected our game plan and we concentrated on not allowing them to find the space. But when we did it, we got punished right away. We knew how good they were but if I didn’t look at the result, just looking at the performance, I couldn’t ask much more from my team.”


On if he would want more from today’s result…


“No, I think you just have to look at games where you really don’t play well and we manage to win the games. I think that is the balance during the season. You always have these types of games but for me, this game is more of a win than anything else. Because yeah, the result didn’t go in our way, but the way that we played, the number of chances we created, we will win more games than draw or loss with that kind of attitude and that kind of game plan and that kind of positiveness. So yes, we can be frustrated because I think there was a spirit to win the game, but on the other side, playing like that, we’ll manage to win more games. So that is for me, a positive note.”


On evaluating NYCFC’s season so far…


“I think what we need to improve is our defensive side of the game. I think we gave a lot of goals away –  I would like my team to improve character-wise. I think especially this year, away from home, we have to fight to work a little bit more harder, be a little bit more ourselves. But, I think if we improve that side of the game, I think we’ll have a good chance [to win trophies at the end of the season].”




On unlucky breaks in the second half…


“I feel that we did everything, I don’t know how many chances we created in the 90 minutes, but I can only count one that they created, that being the goal. We deserved to win, normally with the quality that we have up top, when we create that many chances we win like we did against Salt Lake, Colorado, and Orlando. We need to give the keeper [Guzan] credit, even after we hit the posts he had some very good saves. We are disappointed with the result, but very happy with the way the team played today.”


On the progress the club has made…


“We are a strong team, we can lose because this is soccer… like against the Red Bulls or in Portland, but finally we have identity. You can win, you can lose, you can draw in a good game like today, but we have identity. You see the team, it is only 3 and a half years old, we’ve become strong. I’ve been here from the start, and it seems like it’s been ten years worth of progress, but it’s only been 3 and a half.”


On taking momentum from the last 20 minutes into the two week break…


“It’s always nice to be at home resting during a break, we would’ve liked a victory to be at the top of the table going in. We knew before the game that it was a very important game for us to be on top of the table, but we are two points behind Atlanta still. This break will help us get right in the mind and the legs, we need to train hard and be ready for Toronto.”




On the goal scoring shot…


“Yes, that’s football. Honestly, yea I’m a little happy for the goal but I think this draw has a bad taste to it because I think we had several opportunities throughout the game. I think it’s the game with most chances at goal that we’ve had but we couldn’t score the second one. However, the most important thing is to not lose at home.”


On the team’s collective defense…


“Collectively, I think we’re the best team. I don’t think there is another team that pressures quite like we do, and we win our second chance opportunities. I think we did it today against a team who is in first and who offensively is one of the best in the league. They only had one shot today and they were able to make it but we also had several chances and that’s because collectively we played well in defense.”


On today’s match…


“I’m not 100% happy, but the team played well, we played how we know we can play. I think the last 45 minutes were played mostly in their half and we had three or four good chances on goal.”




On gaining only one point against Atlanta United FC…


“We are not satisfied with the level of play we had. With the high expectations that we have, one point is not bad.”


On getting only one goal while dominating possession…


“It is frustrating because we had a lot of chances. With the weather you have to take advantage of the opportunities. We looked for the tie and we got it. The goalie had a great game and the post helped him out a lot.


His reaction when his shot hit the post in stoppage time…


“The goalie was very lucky. Obviously, the post saved a few goals. We kept the fighting attitude and we got a point”




How were the conditions out there today…


“The weather was no problem for us. It felt like in the second half it was one team on the field and for me it was ridiculous that we don’t win this game. I don’t know how many chances we had. We had so many. Just hitting the post and we played so many chances. I think this is one of our best games this season and now we’re down here and talking to you and we still just got one point and it’s frustrating and disappointing. But how we play, we can’t be disappointed, but we have to score with our chances.”


Did Patrick Vieira’s subs make it confusing with how to plan an attack…


“No, it was very clear that he wants the ball on the sides and then we have to cross the ball into the middle. I think we played with a lot of fight at the end. It could have been four or five for us so… But we didn’t manage to score, so I’m disappointed.”


How do you feel heading into the break…


“Yeah, it’s my first season here so it’s tough for me to compare it to other season. But for me, it’s been a great spring here and when we’re playing away, we can improve even more. But we’re doing it well. Especially at home. We should have won today and everyone knows that it’s tough to come here and we started really well. I think we have to step up a little more on the away games and play maybe a little bit easier and put some long balls behind. But I still think we’re a team who’s going to stay on top of the table.




On facing Atlanta United FC and holding them to one goal…


“I think it was good. I think the back four did really well, Sean as well. Did really, really well in the way we defended. We were unlucky with that goal [we gave up]. But I think as a whole we did really, really well. We put out that fire with Barco, Almiron and the four to five guys that are really dangerous.”


On what led to Atlanta United FC’s goal…


“I think the quick switch, I was out of position – I was trying to get to the center of the three and I was out of position, bounced it right over my head and made a good finish. But it was tough for me to shift quicker.”


On the defensive effort shown today…


“I think it’s a big example of how well Patrick [Vieira] has come in and filled the defensive mind of this team on how we defend as a whole, how we put pressure as a whole – that’s a big testament to what he’s done with us and we’ve just gone on the field and stick with his tactic.




How are you feeling after back to back games…


“I’m tired. It’s going to be a well deserved break for everyone. We’re all looking forward to it. You know, we definitely had a lot of minutes this week. But you grind it out and I wish we would have won, but it was a good performance.”


What do you guys need to do to stay together more as a defensive…


“It’s little things. Little things that tactically… You know win the press, covering each other, having each other’s backs. You know, fill in the space. The communication part is a big part of it and I think we all have to continue on improving that.”


What were some of the specific things you guys did well today…


“I think our aggressiveness. We were on them and gave them no chances to play. I think when they had chances to play when we got a little tired from pressing so hard, being so aggressive. And then, you know, having the ability to do that, we’re winning balls. We’re able to attack from that rather than winning the ball in our half and possessing. We’re winning the ball in their half and we’re attacking from there. You know, we had a lot of really good attacking mindset today and created chances today.”


Was today’s game a boost in confidence…


“Yeah, of course. They’re one of the best attacking teams in this league. The front four or five players are phenomenal players and we shut them down today. We did everything to game plan and shut them down and I think at the end of the day, we were the attacking team. We were the ones creating all the chances and had the energy and that’s what we need to do day in and day out.”





On only getting one point…


“It was a hard point and unfair, it’s probably the first point we’ve taken without deserving it.”


On why the point was undeserved


“Because I think New York was the better team in the second half, up until Josef’s goal it was pretty much even but after that New York became the better team.”


On being the first team to get a point at Yankee Stadium…


Yeah I think it was a good point, I thought it was a great performance by Brad but we know we still have to keep working to improve on our performance.”


Do you expect Columbus to play like NYC…


NYCFC started to play like that once they started playing when they brought up a whole bunch of attacking players, when they brought Medina and Lewis in the second half. I think what we expect from Columbus is a team who likes to build out from the back starting with the goalkeeper.”






How does it feel to get a point on the road…


“Tough place to play. A very good team. Tough conditions. Hot out today, dry field. So we’ll take the point for sure.”


Was it as stressful as it looked…


“Probably more. Yeah, we took on a lot of pressure today. Particularly after we scored. Once we go up one-zero, we didn’t do a good enough job of controlling the game. They stepped up their energy, there pressure. We defended and got more tired they kept pinning us back deep, forcing us to defend so much, so we put ourselves in a tough spot.”


Why were you not able to break out…


“They just were possessing it well, pinning us deep. The five of us in the back, we were in one line. Defensive midfielders in Jeff [Larentowicz] and sometimes Darlington [Nagbe] were pinned deep with runners. And so when we did get the ball it was just Josef [Martinez] and Romario [Williams] up there by themselves so they couldn’t hold it for us and it just came straight back down. That happened a lot and we weren’t giving them good service either. We were just dumping it up there any time we could and they’re battling the best they can. But we need to do a better job of just trying to see games out a bit.”


What does it mean to get out of here with a point…


“It says that Brad [Guzan] had a terrific game for us. He was a wall back there. Countless big time saves for us first half and second half. He really preserved a point for us. The rest of the team, we did what we could. There were some good tackles in there. Some hard-fought moments. Some tired legs running at the end, but we all dug deep and when we weren’t good enough, Brad [Guzan] was.”




Talk about your performance today after taking 25 shots…


“I don’t know if it felt like more, but we were under a bit of pressure for long periods of time. It’s good to take a point. That can’t go unnoticed. But at the same time, we need to make sure that we’re better on Wednesday. We have to get pressure on the ball. We have to make sure that we close guys down. We need to have a stronger mentality when we’re not in possession of the ball how we’re going to deal with it. They’re a good team. We knew that coming in. We knew it was a hard place to come. But we were up for the challenge and the guys in there left everything on the field. It was hot. Things weren’t going our way. Bounces weren’t going our way. Uh, I shouldn’t say that because a few went off the post – just good goalkeeping, right? – No, but we got away with a couple things and so we’re looking at the next one. You know, we even have to grind, and guys for sure did that.”


What do you need to do to improve…


“I think our organization defensively. We can’t allow someone like David Villa time on the ball to make a pass. We can’t allow someone like Maxi [Moralez] to be able to pick his head up and find David Villa who’s making a great run as somebody else is pulling out one of our center backs and creating a massive gap, space, for Villa to run into and Maxi to play it to him. Those things aren’t going to us for 90 minutes. They’re going to get chances and fortunately, I was able to make some saves. Those moments, we need to make sure we’re all on the same page in terms of how we’re going to defend certain situations.”


Are those things you can prepare for…


“No, I think there’s a reason why they have such a good home record at this field. At their home stadium. It’s a tough place to come, so for one reason or another, it’s a tough place to come. And on top of that, they’re a good team. They play to their strengths. They do a good job of exposing gaps and exposing spaces in-between the lines that are difficult to get to. And when their backs are against the wall, it feels like there is an even bigger mountain to climb when you’re absorbing wave after wave of an attack.”

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