NYCFC haven’t won a game since Match Day 2, home against New England.
Since then they’ve drawn one, lost two. Coming off a heartbreaking stoppage time defeat against the Philadelphia Union, Jason Kreis’s team looked to rebound in the second match of a home-and-home.
To be fair to NYCFC, they were the better team. They dominated possession, had the better share of chances, and looked like a more cohesive team overall. Khiry Shelton was flashing his speed all night long, Medhi Ballouchy was lively on the right flank, and Javier Calle looked comfortable and composed at left back.
The first half was a pretty even affair. The best chance came from Ballouchy, whose one-on-one opportunity was stopped by goalkeeper John McCarthy. After the first half, superstar David Villa was replaced by Kwadwo Poku, suffering an apparent injury.
As a result, NYCFC would have to play the last 45 minutes without their two best players (Villa and Mix Diskerud, who is on international duty with the United States).
They responded brilliantly, playing assertive, possession-based football. Andrew Jacobson and Poku were driving forces in the midfield, dictating the tempo and flow of the match. NYCFC slowly but surely asserted their superiority, and in the 57th minute, they were rewarded.
Khiry Shelton slipped a cute ball from the left side to Ballouchy, who took a touch and planted a curler firmly into the back of the net. McCarthy did his best to save, but Ballouchy’s shot was absolutely top draw. With the goal, Ballouchy became the fourth goalscorer in NYCFC history.
NYCFC continued to create chances, but couldn’t quite get the elusive second goal. This allowed Philadelphia to get a foothold into the game. In the 74th minute, NYCFC needed a fantastic save from goalkeeper Josh Saunders to salvage the lead. In the 86th minute, he couldn’t do the same.
American international CJ Sepong gained possession in the box following a cross, completely unmarked, and smashed an equalizer past Saunders. Kwame Watson-Siriboe went for the initial cross into the box but missed, and left Sepong wide open. It was yet another late goal conceded by the MLS expansion side, their second in as many games.
The only other chance of the game came at the very end – Ballouchy launched a shot from way outside the box that was parried impressively by McCarthy. The rebound came to Slovakian Adam Nemec, who wasn’t able to deliver a good enough cross across the face of goal. The ball was cleared, and the match came to an end.
NYCFC picked up another point. they now have 6 in 6 games, a respectable number, but in no way an impressive one. They are sixth in the East, tied with Philadelphia on points, but ahead of them on goal differential (0 to -3). Their next match is at home against the Portland Timbers.
Man of the Match: Khiry Shelton: in his first career MLS start, the rookie was very impressive, assisting on Ballouchy’s opener and taking two shots of his own. He has yet to score in the MLS, but at this rate, it’s only about time.