Dome Torrent made three changes to the NYCFC starting XI which kicked the 2-0 road win at Montreal last weekend.
In came Ronald Matarrita, Tony Rocha and James Sands as the Boys in Blue looked to string together three consecutive away victories after winning in D.C. and Montreal.
With confidence flowing, NYC started strong in their three-back system, with Alex Ring, Maxi Moralez and Anton Tinnerholm especially influential through a dominant opening 15′.
It was Ring who had the game’s first meaningful opportunity on 17′ when he won the ball back in the middle third, exchanged passes with Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and unleashed a curling shot which just faded away from the target.
On 22′, more fluid build-up play between Maxi Moralez and Ronald Matarrita created a good look for Héber, who read the near-post cross and and diverted the ball towards goal but his shot took a deflection just over the top.
From the resulting corner, the Brazilian was first to it again but his improvised back-heel was just a foot too high.
On the half-hour mark, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the ball in the net against the run of play on an LA counter, but the officials correctly ruled the goal out for offside, much to the relief of the City backline who were caught outnumbered.
However, NYCFC went in at the break with the scoreline their play had warranted as two quick-fire goals on 44′ and 45+6′ put the Boys in Blue in a commanding position.
First, Héber netted his third goal in five starts after he reacted first to Bingham’s parry to hammer home a rebound from close range. It got even better for City in first-half stoppage-time when Anton Tinnerholm’s cross hit a hand and the referee pointed to the penalty spot after a lengthy VAR consultation.
0-2 on penalties so far in 2019, Maxi Moralez bravely stepped up and this time he made no mistake, thrashing the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Bingham with no chance.
After that exciting climax to the first half, the second half started at a more sedate pace, as NYCFC looked to draw the sting from a Galaxy side who came out eager to turn things around.
The hosts enjoyed more possession after the interval but were unable to take advantage, largely thanks to the impressive defensive trio of Alexandr Callens, Maxime Chanot and James Sands.
Alexandru Mitriță was introduced from the bench with 25′ to go to inject some fresh impetus to the City attack but there was more defending to do after the break.
Callens was especially alert on 80′ when Ibrahimovic finally found a way past Sean Johnson, heading the Swede’s goalbound chip out for a corner to preserve the clean sheet.
The NYCFC goal was threatened again with 5′ left as Ibrahimovic lifted the ball over the onrushing Johnson, hitting the underside of the crossbar but that was as close as Galaxy came to scoring, meaning NYCFC held on for another important three points.
NYCFC HEAD COACH DOMÉNEC TORRENT
On their recent success on the road:
“I am very happy because when you asked me about that last week I said the same thing, maybe we found the right system for us because this is three clean sheets in a row when we play away. But it is not about that, it is about the feeling, sometimes you are not able to score but the feeling is much better, and right now this team has the possibilities to win some. We feel good, that is important for us when that happens (clean sheets) you have more confidence, even when they have the control or decide to play long balls, if you defend well and fight for every single ball, you have more possibilities to get points. Right now when I see the face of our team, I know they are happy when we are playing this system. We didn’t start well, maybe we deserved more, I said many times that when you are able to win the games people don’t analyze anything, that is normal, but I am a coach, I have to analyze, and I know how important it is, and how happy our fans our when we get points, but sometimes you have to analyze if we play well, if we play bad. A key player arrived for us you know, Héber, and it is not about his scoring, it is about when you are in trouble, you can pass the ball to him and he has the quality to keep the ball, create spaces, he is a good player for us and everybody is better when he is playing.”
On the decisive penalty kick by Maxi Moralez:
“That means he has personality. I remember when Leo Messi missed a penalty sometimes in Barcelona, nobody asked about Leo. Are you sure you want to take the penalty? Yes, you have personality, ok, up to you. I told you many times the soccer belongs to the players, it is about that, I have to convince my players what is the best way to play. Give the ball, pass the ball, and they are happy because we had a lot of passes, that means this team has personality, but when you decide to shoot the penalty or free kicks it is about the personality, it is not in the training. We have 3-4 players able to shoot the penalties really well, but if one player decides to shoot the penalty to me that is not a problem.”
NYCFC GOALKEEPER SEAN JOHNSON
On their play lately:
“I think it is really just putting in the work on the practice field, having small discussions and making sure we are all on the same page. Obviously we have gotten results, good results, especially on the road which was a big thing we were missing last year and the start of this year, but we have put it all together on both sides of the ball, scoring goals and keeping balls out of the back of the net so we have to continue on. Continue to look forward, continue to get better as a group. There is so much more for us I think and the guys are hungry. We can reach another level and I know everybody is committed to it. In this business it is about having character, showing character in spots where you may not be expected to go and get wins. I think this group, for the entire year, we have faced a lot of adversity at different points of the year, but we have showed that we are resilient, we have a core of guys who will keep fighting for each other and that spirit has really carried us to where we are now.”
On three shutouts in a row:
“I take pride in that. The past 3-4 games have been really good, both at home on the road, we have to have that mentality and now that we have set that bar, I think there is another level for us to achieve, and everybody is hungry, we have short break now, but I think the guys are really looking forward to getting back to work and fixing what we need to do going into the next away game. We will have to keep performances up, keep the ball out of the back of the net, and keep scoring goals if we want to continue to climb, but we have showed that we can do it, just have to keep working as a group.”
On the scuffle with Zlatan towards the end of the match:
“I don’t think there were any hugs, he is just a competitor. I think you guys will watch the replay and decide for yourselves, but at the end of the day, in the heat of the battle, you want to do what you can to protect the guys, make sure we see the game out no matter what and make sure they know we are here to play, we are not going to be walked over. I think in any moment, anybody is up for the challenge, including myself and you know, Zlatan is a talented player, he obviously knows what he is doing, he is a clever boy and you know, it is a part of the game. I would be frustrated if I were him too, you know, can’t blame him for his frustration at that point in the game, obviously our boys did a job today to keep him off the scoresheet and he is only happy when he is scoring, so job done, we will take the three points and go back. I think we can look back and say we got the best out of the whole situation today.”
NEW YORK CITY FC FORWARD MAXI MORALEZ
[Translated from Spanish]
On the team’s performance tonight:
“In my opinion it was great winning here and continuing the winning streak. We knew we had to do our job. They had just played Wednesday and traveled so we had something in our favor and I think we showed that. We got a 2-0 win and played a good game.”
On scoring the penalty kick:
“Anytime I grab the ball I always have confidence. I wouldn’t be the first to miss a penalty so when you go up there you try and thankfully it went in today. It worked to add to our lead.”
On what the team has done to improve:
“I think we have been showing from five to six games that we are finding the level of play we are looking for. After the game against Montreal playing at home, we had the full roster and now we have a clear idea and we are showing we can play well. Now we are just looking ahead and hopefully we can continue on this positive streak.”
For more information on New York City FC fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: