NYCFC Ends Winless Streak as Finishing Woes Continue

DKx8DMKXUAEtNzR

NYCFC logoNew York City FC snapped a three-game winless streak Wednesday night but somehow scored only once against the Montreal Impact.

Jack Harrison scored his 10th goal of the season to give NYCFC the victory but his goal was the only one of the 22 shots that found the back of the net. City dominated the game with 58 percent possession and most of their completed passes came in Montreal’s half of the field. Yet more of its shots went off target and it was credited with seven missed chances.

“With the chances we had, we definitely should have had 2 or 3 goals,” Harrison said. “Credit to Montreal, they played well, but we need to be more ruthless in front of the goal, especially coming to the end of the season and on the way to the playoffs.”

The Pigeons’ front three of Rodney Wallace, Khiry Shelton and Harrison were able to pressure the Impact into making turnovers, allowing Maxi Moralez and the midfield space to retain possession and create chances. While the forward pressure created many of City’s chances, they created the lone goal from a nine-pass sequence from back to front down the left wing. Harrison played a give-and-go with Wallace and ran onto Wallace’s pass into the area and hit a left-footed half volley over Evan Bush.

“We always have something to play for,” Coach Patrick Vieira said. “As a football club and as a team, we want to finish as high as possible. I will keep changing the players because we have to take one game at a time and I want the players to work hard and give everything that they have.”

NYCFC (16-8-7, 55 points) continued to put the Impact (11-14-6, 39) under pressure and exploited the gaps between their defense and midfield. Moralez floated into such a space on the right side and had time to float a cross that Victor Cabrera misplayed allowing Wallace to get in behind but he miscued the shot as goalkeeper Evan Bush came out to challenge him. Moments later, Moralez found the same gap and played Wallace in behind but he could not get the ball out from underneath his feet and the shot was eventually blocked. Wallace remains without a goal since May.

The Impact were forced to switch from a back three to a back four at halftime but it made little difference as City were still able to run at them and create chances. Shelton had a golden opportunity to score his first goal of the season but Bush stuck an ankle out to stop his shot. Harrison missed the frame from inside the six-yard box. David Villa came off the bench at the hour mark but the bug didn’t spare him either as he found himself unmarked inside the six-yard box but couldn’t control his first-time shot.

Mateo Mancosu nearly made New York City pay for those squandered chances with a well-placed header but Sean Johnson made the reaction save. After that, NYCFC was able to kill off the game with the inclusion of  Yangel Herrera to shore up the midfield. Ben Sweat also came on for Ronald Matarrita who played 82 minutes in his first appearance since June 29. Herrera made his first appearance since Aug 20. Together, they kept the Impact to one shot for the rest of the game.

With the win, City was able to keep its three-point lead over Atlanta United for second place in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta holding a game in hand. Both teams have clinched Eastern Conference playoff berths. NYCFC’s next opponents, the Chicago Fire, are four points behind with both teams having played 31 games. While a first-round bye remains in question, City can assure itself of a home playoff game with a win Saturday night.