Late Winner and NYCFC Has Matters Well “In Hand”

Posted By Peter Nolan on July 21, 2019

NYCFC picked up three valuable points with a 2-1 win in Colorado against the Rapids on Saturday.

The match featured a half-hour weather delay; a sixth-minute lead for the Rapids on a goal scored by 16 year-old homegrown prospect Sebastian Anderson which was set up by Jonathan Lewis, who was traded by NYC after the team gave up on him; then a red card to Anderson in the 33rd minute; then a Tim Howard injury; and finally and a late New York winner from substitute Alexandru Mitrita, a goal that Colorado coach Conor Casey loudly proclaimed offside following the game.

Pheew!

When the smoke cleared from that incident-filled evening, New York City Football Club had climbed into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

NYCFC well-positioned for playoff run

NYCFC has played just 18 games, four games less than playoff contenders Toronto FC and five less than first-place Philadelphia Union. New York had games in hand over all of the teams that it trailed in the Eastern Conference standings.

Ah, but the thing about games in hand is, well – you had better win those “extra” games.

Recovering from a skid

NYCFC was also coming off a two-game losing streak, significant given that Dome Torrent’s men have lost just three games all season. However, the visitors never panicked after conceding that early goal, quickly recovering to dominate the possession, nearly 78%, and shots, 29-7.

New York was already well on the way to compiling those impressive numbers when referee Chris Penso confidently produced a straight red card, prematurely ending an up and down evening for Anderson, the California teen.

With Anderson now on the line and Rapids leading scorer Kei Kamara unavailable, the Raps were always going to struggle to apply any pressure to Sean Johnson’s net. Things did not improve for Casey when he had to pull his goalkeeper, Tim Howard, before the halftime break.

Howard had been excellent to that point. The U.S. legend could do little to prevent Heber abrilliant 40th-minute control and strike from a wonderful chipped pass by MLS assist leader (13) Maxi Moralez.

With the return from injury of James Sands, still wearing a cast to protect his broken right arm, Torrent sent his side out with the 18-year-old Sands at the center of a three back set. Sands was fine and the formation held up well, save for the Colorado goal, which came when Sebastian Ibeagha was beaten by Lewis to tee up young Andersen.

Ibeagha was in the team for the suspended Maxime Chanot, and his return alongside Sands and Alex Callens will be welcomed by Torrent.

Colorado has improved since Conor Casey was named interim boss when Anthony Hudson was let go on May 1. However, the gulf in class between the two teams on Friday night was clear even as Casey’s Rapids battled for a hoped for draw.

It was not to be with New York’s depth coming into play when Torrent sprung Alexandru Mitrita off the bench, and back from injury, to score the New York winner.

Casey had to be disappointed that his 10-man side were unable to escape with a point, moreso considering his view that the game-winner should not have counted.

“I saw a long ball with a player offsides,” Casey said in his postgame remarks. “Lalas (Abubakar) has to deal with a header and then the ball falls to somebody else and no offside is called.”

It looked as if Casey had a point but the call did not go his way and New York headed home with three valuable points and one game in hand taken care of.

Next Up for NYCFC

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Next up for New York – Friday, July 26 vs. Sporting Kansas City – 7:30 PM ET

NYCFC -143Draw +275Sporting KC +375
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Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan has been on the soccer beat for many years now, covering the United States Men's and Women's teams, from the SnowClasico to Azteca and back again. Along with the US national teams, Peter will provide insight into the MLS and NWSL, with a focus on the NY Red Bulls and NYCFC.

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