With coach Dome Torrent admittedly “in trouble,” NYCFC put together by far its best performance of the season to claim their first win of 2019, defeating first place DC United 2-0 at Audi Field.
With Torrent having recorded just four wins in 22 matches since replacing Patrick Vieira last season, City Football Group bigwig Brian Marwood has been spending time around the club. Torrent struck a realistic note when he told NYCFC radio colorman Glenn Crooks that, “Right now I am in trouble as a head coach – I know and I have to accept that.”
Traveling to the DC to face the top team in the division did not necessarily seem like the best get well plan for NYC, then again in recent weeks United have played like a team missing the old homestead RFK Stadium, losing two and drawing one at Audi Field.
First time attacking trio clicks for Torrent
Good things came in threes on Easter Sunday for New York with the back three working a charm while Torrent had recent signings Alexandru Mitrita and Héber both available to team with playmaker Maxi Moralez from the start for the first time.
The trio was a hit as Heber set up Mitrita for the opener in the 35th minute, and then closed out the scoring in the 56th minute with Ronald Matarrita providing the key pass.
Torrent learning from past missteps
Torrent learned from last week’s disastrous rollout of the three back, which fell on its face when the coach used Tony Rocha on the right side (regular Alexander Callens was unavailable). Torrent could have filled the spot with another player or held off on the formation.
On Saturday, with 18 year-old midfielder/defender James Sands flanked by a pair of dependable veterans in Callens and Maxime Chanot New York’s defense was solid, aided in no small part by fine defensive work from defensive midfield pair Alex Ring and Ebenezer Ofori, whose presence allowed wingbacks Anton Tinnerholm and Mattarita the freedom to bomb forward.
Combined with a smothering press from NYC’s frontment, Ben Olsen’s side had no answers. DC’s star duo Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta were quiet, although Rooney was dangerous from dead balls.
For his part, Acosta provided an occasional bit of magic, in particular an inch perfect cross to Rooney that Johnson tipped over the crossbar in the 21st minute on a chance that the former Manchester United man should have put away.
Otherwise, Acosta looked to be what the English tabloids like to call “unsettled” by a transfer saga that began in January when the 24 year-old Argentinian flew to Paris to sign with PSG only to see the deal collapse.
On Sunday, ESPN’s broadcast crew reported that scouts from Manchester United and Lyon were on hand at Audi Field, clipboards in hand, and that PSG may retain interest. Acosta might be feeling the pressure of that scrutiny. Similarly, DC United homegrown and U.S. Youth international Chris Durkin has been drawing interest from overseas for sometime now and, again per ESPN, Bayern Munich was said to be in DC for a close up look at the 19 year old.
Neither DC man impressed in Sunday’s audition, although one game will hardly make up any minds. On the other hand, perennially overlooked 18 year-old Sands was the picture of composure at the heart of the NYCFC defense – might Sands have turned some European heads?
Johnson came up with a huge kick save to spoil a DC chance from a tantalizing Rooney free kick in the 37th minute, part of solid bounceback from the veteran keeper in the wake of last week’s unforgettable howler in Minnesota.
Potential favorable stretch ahead?
Sunday’s win improves Torrent to five wins in 23 matches, but while we don’t want to get carried away with Easter and resurrection themes, NYCFC did impress versus DC on Sunday afternoon. There appears to be something to build on from back-to-front, although we will keep an eye on Mittrita, who left just after halftime with an ankle knock.
Following Sunday’s comprehensive victory, New York heads into a favorable niche in the schedule with consecutive home games Wednesday and Saturday versus Chicago and Orlando before kicking off a four road trip on May 4th in Montreal.
Two home wins and three game winning streak would be a nice way to prepare for life on the road, but Torrent and his team won’t get ahead of themselves, not after having waited through all of March and a long stretch of April for yesterday’s first victory of 2019.