Larin Sinks NYCFC again

Apr 23, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Orlando City SC forward Cyle Larin (9) celebrates his goal against New York City FC with Orlando City SC forward Giles Barnes (14) during the second half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

By CHRISTIAN ARAOS

imagesIt should almost be assumed at this point but Cyle Larin scored for Orlando City against New York City FC again.

Larin scored twice Sunday afternoon to give Orlando City a 2–1 win in the Bronx upping his total to three against NYCFC this season and nine over the course of seven games since 2015. Larin gave Orlando City the lead in the 31st minute by running in between Ethan White and Maxime Chanot to redirect Scott Sutter‘s cross into an open net. Chanot said there was not much Larin did that made him so difficult to mark.

“First off, congratulations to him to score two goals in this league you have to say good game,” Chanot said. “But how many times, did he have a shot on goal? Maybe three or four times. He scored twice and he’s a really good striker but today we have congratulate him not on his game but for his two goals. He’s done his job which is good for Orlando and disappointing for New York City.”

Larin, who finished the game with three shots on target, doubled the lead six minutes into the second half, beating Rodney Wallace to meet a cross from left wing and head Donny Toia‘s cross home. City responded by substituting Andrea Pirlo after 55 minutes, the earliest he has been subbed off since joining Major League Soccer and switching to a 3-4-3. They were able to pull one back through David Villa but were stopped by Joe Bendik who made three saves in the second half.

“He had a great performance today,” NYCFC’s Jack Harrison said of Bendik. “The keeper did really well, especially with some close-range shots. At the end of the day, there’s not much you can do. When the chance is gone, it’s gone and you have to focus on the next play. I think we were unfortunate to get a second goal today.”

Although he hinted otherwise, City Coach Patrick Vieira fielded a 4-3-3 with Wallace moving back to left back to replace the injured Ronald Matarrita. Thomas McNamara entered the lineup at left wing. The approach did not work in the first half as Wallace and McNamara were beaten by a one-two in the buildup to the opening goal and could not get forward. City created both chances in that half with quick attacks through the right wing. The midfield was outnumbered 4-3 preventing them from generating chances. Vieira said City were able to create chances with Pirlo on the field.

“When Andrea is on the field, our game is more fluid and we create more chances,” Vieira said. “Yes, I made a change because I wanted something different. In this game like any other game, it can be Andrea out or it can be somebody else out.”

Vieira continued attributing the team’s failings to be its inability to defend from the front and also to lose the second ball. He also noted that Orlando City midfielder Andrea Nocerino was allowed too much time on the ball and was able to dictate the game without much pressure. Compounding the numerical problem in the midfield was the fact that both Pirlo and Maxi Moralez received yellow cards in the first half.

The Pigeons played more direct in the second half once Pirlo was off but only generated the bulk of their chances once Orlando dropped deep to defend their advantage. Their passing play was not creating chances on their own and the best opportunities came through loose balls and set pieces. It was a quickly taken free kick that led to Villa’s goal in the 74th minute. Moralez played a ball down right wing that Villa was able to sprint onto before turning his hips to volley it in from a tight angle.

City threw numbers forward for the remaining 15 minutes as John Stertzer replaced McNamara to play as a second forward and Miguel Camargo replaced White to add even more attacking options. Though Orlando buckled under the pressure, Bendik was steady in goal. When a cross found Villa in space in front of goal, Bendik stayed calm and blocked the powerful shot from eight yards away. The whistle sounded moments later giving Orlando its second win over New York City this season.

“It’s disappointing to lose at home to a team that on the day we felt we had the better collective unit of guys,” Sean Johnson said. “We didn’t get off to a great start giving up the early goal and it’s tough to play on the back foot but we showed a lot of commitment in the second half and we still had an opportunity to attack the game the way we wanted to but at 2–0 we had to change things up to go press on. We got one back but at the end, it wasn’t enough.”

New York City’s loss was their first in its last 11 regular-season home games. Yangel Herrera replaced Pirlo for his third appearance of the season while Camargo made his second and Stertzer made his debut. City will travel to Ohio to take on the Columbus Crew at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday.