Bruce Arena brought his New England side to New York aiming to continue their excellent recent form and make strides towards joining NYCFC in the MLS Playoffs.
City secured their spot last time out after defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 but came into this one light on numbers.
With eight players missing through a combination of injuries, international duty and suspension, Dome Torrent was forced to shuffle his pack, making four changes to the lineup which started out vs. Vancouver and only naming six substitutes to the bench.
In came Brad Stuver, Ben Sweat, Sebastien Ibeagha and Gary Mackay-Steven for the Boys in Blue as City looked to make it four straight wins and seize top spot in the East.
However, NYC got off to the worst-possible start, falling behind with fewer than two minutes on the clock after Luis Caicedo strode clear, wrongfooting Ibeagha and sliding the ball into the corner of Stuver’s net to make it 1-0.
It was a breathless opening to the game, with New England being reduced to ten men on 9’ when Antonio Milnar Delamea was given a red card for denial of a goalscoring opportunity.
It looked a harsh call on the replays as Delamea appeared to get a foot on the ball before going through Taty Castellanos but the decision stood, meaning New England faced the task of defending their lead down a player for more than 80 minutes.
City looked to build on their good fortune and almost equalized on 19’ through Keaton Parks but Matt Turner made a good near-post save to turn the American’s shot wide of the post.
There were more opportunities for NYCFC through the first half but it was difficult for the home team to get into any kind of flow, with a stop-start half punctuated regularly by the referee’s whistle.
Mackay-Steven had perhaps the best chance of the half from a City point of view, but his volley from just inside the box wasn’t caught clean and rolled the wrong side of the post, with Turner beaten.
One down at the break, NYCFC came back out for the second period in a determined mood but the pattern of play was largely unchanged, with 10-man New England wasting as much time as possible when the ball went out of play to try and conserve energy and frustrate the hosts.
Torrent’s response was bold on 60’ when he took off defender Seb Ibeagha and brought in forward Jesus Medina.
It proved to be a decisive change.
Just 10 minutes after Jesus came in, he levelled the score, dinking a low cross over Turner and into the back of the net for his third goal in all competitions this season.
Level at last, Dome went all out for the win on 80’, bringing in Ismael Tajouri-Shradi for his long-awaited return from an ankle injury.
However, it was Medina who claimed the headlines, stepping up from 12 yards to send Turner the wrong way and secure the three points after Mitrita had been fouled in the box.
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