Two In A Row! NYCFC Calmly Dispatch Montreal Impact

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS
Staff Writer

It took almost three months for New York City FC to win its second game. It only took a week for them to win their third.

NYCFC soundly defeated the Montreal Impact 3–1 behind goals from David Villa, Mix Diskerud and Kwando Poku in front of 24,042 people at Yankee Stadium. It is the first time in team history that the club has won two matches in a row.

The hosts controlled play throughout the match recording eight shots on target and maintaining 55% of the possession. Villa’s goal in the 31st minute summed up NYCFC’s performance as he calmly beat Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush from seven yards out after a strong team move down the left wing. Villa said the opening goal allowed the team to play more comfortably, adding that the team’s adjustments and persistence have been vital in their turnaround.

“We’ve just worked really hard,” Villa said. “I think we’re doing a much better job of pressing up the field and being really tight and organized not only offensively but the entire team. That allows us to get the ball back much quicker and I think the performances have been dramatically improved.”

NYCFC doubled their lead 14 minutes from time when Poku forced a turnover in the Impact’s backline and crossed for Diskerud, who tucked his finish inside the far post. Though the Impact struggled to create chances throughout the match, they reduced their deficit in the 88th minute when defender Wandrille Lefevre headed a free kick past Josh Saunders.

Saunders later revealed the goal came from a miscommunication between him and midfielder Andrew Jacobson.

The hosts put the game away two minutes later when Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier misplayed Villa’s cross, allowing Poku to easily finish in front of goal. The goal was Poku’s first ever in MLS and the second goal scored by one of NYCFC Head Coach Jason Kreis’ substitutes in the match.

Kreis said the team felt a sense of relief after ending its 11-match winless streak last weekend that allowed them play more confidently on Saturday.

“I felt that this giant-sized gorilla had been lifted off of everyone’s shoulders,” Kreis said. “We were able to, for the first time since the second week of the year, work in a positive and correct way. I think because of that we saw tonight a group that felt a little more liberated, more free to be the type of players and the type of team that they’re capable of.”

Although they conceded a late goal to stretch their run of games without a clean sheet to 12, the NYCFC backline put in their most sound performance of the season. Fullbacks Chris Wingert and RJ Allen added width to the team’s buildup play with their overlapping runs. Centerback Shay Facey covered his partner, Jason Hernandez, well by dealing with the Impact’s efforts to play long balls in behind them. Saunders said the backline has worked more cohesively in recent matches.

“I think our spacing has been very good, our awareness of where each other is has improved,” Saunders said. “I think the chances that we’re limiting teams to has been good. It’s been a lot wider and not down the pipe. It’s not clearcut chances but more half-chances and stuff like that.”

NYCFC remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 14 points but they are only two points behind Columbus Crew SC for the last playoff spot and three points behind rival New York Red Bulls. They will play the New York Cosmos in the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday June 17 at Hofstra University.

Kreis said he is not sure who will be available for the match since several players suffered minor knocks playing tonight. He added that the team is taking the tournament seriously.

“We’re not going to out there as if we’re playing some type of friendly,” Kreis said. “We’re in the Open Cup, we’re there to win trophies.”


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