Off the back of a two-week break from action, Dome Torrent welcomed back fit-again Jo Inge Berget, as well as Maxime Chanot (international duty) and Alex Ring (suspension) to the XI as the Boys in Blue looked to clinch their place in the postseason.
Three points would be enough to seal it but a resurgent Montreal Impact stood in their way at the Stade Saputo in the first of five remaining games in the 2018 Regular Season.
It was Berget who played the most significant role in the scoring of the opening goal on 17′, as he raced onto an incisive cross from Ben Sweat and forced Rudy Camacho to divert the ball over the onrushing Evan Bush.
Although the Norwegian couldn’t claim his fifth goal of the season for it, it was a perfect demonstration of what NYCFC have been missing in Jo Inge’s absence but, sadly, the lead would last just ten minutes.
Azira provided the equalizer with a shot which also picked up a deflection, with this one off the unlucky Alexander Callens completely wrong-footing Sean Johnson in the City goal, leaving him no chance.
It was a blow for Torrent’s side who had started the game well but they recovered from the concession and were well in the game, though there were few clear chances until the dying embers of the half.
First, Taider forced Johnson into a great save with his downward header on 44′, before David Villa forced an equally good stop from Bush at the other end after El Guaje did brilliantly well to take down Ronald Matarrita’s through ball and get his shot away.
Those saves meant that the teams went in at the break level, which was probably about right on the balance of play.
After the interval, Matarrita forced Bush into action for the first time on 56′ when he drilled an effort into the palms of the ‘keeper after a neat touch from Villa, who was in pain minutes later after a clash of knees, but fortunately, he was fine to continue after running it off.
Matarrita renewed his rivalries with Bush courtesy of a powerful thumped shot on 66′ but the Montreal no.1 was right behind it again and he was also able to watch Sweat’s dangerous right-footed shot clear the crossbar on 76’.
Johnson came to City’s rescue with a crucial late one-on-one save to prevent what would have been a fortunate home win for the Canadians.
As it was, it remained 1-1 and City will go for the clinch vs. Chicago back in the Big Apple on Wednesday night.
- Torrent made three changes to his lineup, bringing in Berget, Chanot and Ring after they missed the D.C. tie.
- NYCFC’s all-time record vs. Montreal is now P9 W5 D3 L1
- Alexander Callens will miss the game vs. Chicago for yellow card accumulation
NYCFC Head Coach Domènec Torrent
On the team’s performance
‘‘We played much better the last three or four games away. The performance has been much better. We had the control of the game, but they used the counterattack. Especially the last fifteen minutes in the first half. They decided to defend deep. They are a dangerous team when they make a counterattack. We knew that. But we controlled them well. The most important thing for us is we kept the ball, we controlled 70% of the game.”
On Berget’s performance tonight
‘‘Berget was injured the last month and we knew he was ready to play 50-55 minutes. In the first half, he told me ‘When I’m really tired, I’ll tell you.’ I think it was at 55 minutes that he told me he was tired and to change him because we knew he was not ready for 90 minutes.’’
NYCFC Goalkeeper Sean Johnson
Overall thoughts on the game
‘‘I thought it was one of our better road performances in the recent run of games we’ve had. Obviously disappointing to go up 1-0 and then not be able to close out the game out. But I thought there were some good things tonight. But we’re still trying to figure out how to get that elusive away win, so we’ll get back to it. We have another away game next weekend. But the positive is we can take a lot of things going into Wednesday’s match against Chicago.’’
NYCFC Forward Jo Inge Berget
On getting a point on the road
‘‘Yes, it was an important point but what we’re missing the last games is a win. It was a good game and we got a good point but still, we didn’t get the win that we came here for and it’s been a while now since we last won a game. We really want to win. That’s the good thing about the tight schedule now. We have another game on Wednesday and we didn’t get it today.’’
On the lack of scoring for the team recently
‘‘You win games if you score goals. It’s as easy as that. If you score many goals each game, you’re most likely going to win many games. And these last games we haven’t really scored. We created loads of chances. Maybe not today but the last few games. And we just can’t get it in the net. But we know the quality of the players we have here that it is going to come. It’s just about giving that extra 5% and that little bit of luck as well. I’m sure it is going to come and when they do, hopefully they’re going to come for all of us.’’
On his role on the field when a team defends deep
‘‘My job is to be strong and to make runs in behind. Maybe not to get a ball but to stretch them and to give a little bit of room to Maxi and David. On our first goal, that is exactly what happened. David got a little room and then he can pick those passes and then got a great cross in. And it ended in the back of the net. And that’s what we need to do even when teams are laying low. There is still space for those kinds of players to take advantage. And then it’s my job to do the dirty work and run around and I’m happy to do that.’’
On his return from injury
‘‘The injury didn’t bother me, and I didn’t feel anything to it, so it was a good 60 minutes to get back there. Obviously, we wanted more but still, if you look at away games, it is a step in the right direction. Montreal is a good team and I think we played a decent game. We didn’t create as many chances as we wanted to but still, I think we played well tonight and it was a step in the right direction.’’
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