New York City FC headed to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday to face off against Columbus Crew SC as the team looked to extend their singular season record unbeaten streak which stood at eight.
Coming into the matchup, Head Coach Dome Torrent made two changes to the Starting XI. Ben Sweat and Ebenezer Ofori made their return to the lineup for the Boys in Blue.
The Crew started the match maintaining possession and taking a shot on goal five minutes into the match. David Guzman threatened the NYCFC goal with the first attempt of the game, but Sean Johnson was there to make a strong save down to his left.
Although the home team had a brighter start to the match, the defense held strong, with James Sands especially dominant in the City backline.
Unfortunately for NYC, Columbus Crew notched the first goal of the night on a penalty kick from Gyasi Zardes in the 28’ minute.
Alex Callens was adjudged to have made the foul leading to the spot-kick and VAR upheld the decision, much to the Copa America-bound Peruvian’s frustration.
Right before going into the half, Ofori’s addition to the lineup nearly paid off as the midfielder took the team’s first meaningful shot on goal which flashed just wide of goal.
NYCFC retired to half-time down by one.
Coming into the second half, the team’s urgency to score the equalizer was clear.
First half substitute Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was influential when it came, connecting with Maxi Moralez, who crossed the ball to Héber for NYCFC’s first goal of the night, tying up the game at 1-1 in the 57’ minute.
It was the Brazilian’s fourth goal for NYCFC and it came at the end of a breathtaking counter-attack.
The Crew, four minutes later, responded to City’s goal with a goal of their own from Pedro Santos, regaining the lead on their home turf, 2-1 in the 61’ minute.
The hunt for the equalizer resumed for NYCFC, and Torrent made a bold move, bringing in another attacker in the shape of Castellanos from the bench.
The attempts kept flowing in from the road with vicious shots from Alexandru Mitriță and Tajouri-Shradi, but Zack Steffen was there to make the saves on his farewell appearance for Columbus, before taking up gloves for our sister club in Manchester.
However, the moment of the night was still to come and it was the addition of Castellanos which paid off in fine style in the 76’ minute as he scored one of the goals of the season so far, taking aim from all of 35 yards and finding the bottom corner with a rocket of a shot.
That’s how it stayed, meaning NYCFC extends their unbeaten streak to nine games.
NYCFC Head Coach Doménec Torrent
On getting another draw…
“In the first half, especially, the plays were better. It was similar to what happened in Chicago. After that we changed the system and we played much better. We played with five offensive players in the last 25 minutes because there is nothing else for us. I’m happy for the players because when you are on the table to win the game, it is important to win points, you know? For us it’s not easy to play four games in a row and we get eight points and a win. Right now, we have the possibility to play four games in a row in Yankee Stadium. We’ll miss some players [for international duty]…and we have to adapt quickly.”
On reaction after first half sub…
“In that moment, the game was for Columbus and we have to react, and not just players, even the coaches. I’m happy because when we react – in Chicago and here – we get the point at least. It’s not bad, it’s not bad. I prefer to get three points. I think we played, especially in the second half to win the game. Our intentions are to win the game, but, you know, it was a tough game against Columbus. It’s not easy to get points here and okay, we are not very, very happy, but it’s not bad.
On whether Valentin Castellanos rewarded Torrent’s faith in him…
“I am very happy with him, I said to you that he deserved to play and I kind of said to you that he would play the next game 100% against [FC] Cincinnati. Everybody deserved to play, but he showed me every single game he’s ready to play.”
NYCFC Forward Valentin Castellanos
On his overall thoughts on the match…
“In the second half we started to play in a different way. It was difficult, we knew they played well with the ball, but it’s fine, we came out with a tie that felt like a victory. Playing not so well in the first half and going on to tie the game is important.”
On how he feels about scoring a goal…
“It was set up for me to shoot it from outside (of the box) and I am very happy to have been able to score it.”
On how he feels about coming in and having an impact on the game…
“It’s good that when the times comes that I do well. I always show strength when the coach puts me in to play, like here [against Columbus Crew SC]. I feel like I’m playing well and at a good level and hopefully I can keep on playing.”
NYCFC Forward Héber
On how his goal changed the momentum of the game..
“We started the game not so good and Columbus has a good team with quality, and they kept possession of the ball and we didn’t know how to get behind them, and they scored. After the first change of our formation, it got better, then better and better and we scored, but sometimes in football it doesn’t make sense. I think we deserved to win the game today, we created more chances. We have to keep working this way and we need to think now about the next game.”
On why the team needs to change formations mid-game…
“I think it’s the opponent and our coach is clever and a smart guy, and he sees the game is not so good for us, and he change the formation and we started to play better.”
On New York City FC’s second goal…
“It was a very nice goal, huh? It’s too long, it’s too far from the goal, but he deserved that because he [Valentin Castellanos] works very hard all week. He doesn’t play so many minutes, but when he comes in the game, he always gives everything and he deserves this goal. I hope he scores more like that and helps us.”
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