On Wednesday, New York City FC faced Atlas F.C. in the annual Campeones Cup. The fixture pits the MLS Cup winner against the Campeón de Campeones winner, and the Pigeons wanted to expand their trophy case. However, their recent run has been, in plain terms, awful, and fans wondered if they could compete for the win.
On a positive note for NYCFC fans, Atlas was not too hot either and sat toward the bottom of the table in Liga MX. In other words, the Bronx side had a chance to turn their recent misfortunes around.
At the same time, fans were already criticizing Nick Cushing before the match could begin. Some were not happy that Talles Magno and Sean Johnson did not start the game, and others were confused as to why Kevin O’Toole got the start in this fixture.
The lineup got the job done though, and NYCFC ended up winning 2-0. Goals from Alexander Callens and Maxi Moralez saw the Pigeons claim another trophy and perhaps sparked something within the squad for the Hudson River Derby, which is set for Saturday.
New York City FC beats Atlas for the Campeones Cup trophy
New York City FC fans did not have to wait long to be entertained thanks to the goal by Callens in the 4th minute.
The Pigeons were rewarded a free kick, and Gabriel Pereira sent the ball into the box. Nicolás Acevedo got to the ball first and headed it with the back of his head toward Callens. The defender was right in front of the goal, and with a swift flick of his foot, he put the ball into the back of the net as he fell to the ground.
While the first goal was nice, the second one was even better. In the 49th minute, Moralez scored following a brilliant passing sequence, but Magno, who came on in the first half for an injured Héber, was the key player leading up to the second goal. Not only did he drive the ball into the attacking third, but he assisted Moralez on the goal.
Moralez calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner and put the Pigeons up by two, giving the team some room to breathe.
Naturally, there was some controversy during the match due to some interesting decisions by the referee, Said Martínez. In the first half, he had two poor calls regarding Tayvon Gray.
First, Martínez refused to call a foul when an Atlas player rammed through the defender. Although there was no harm, that was a shocking no-call.
Then, he gave Gray a yellow card for simulation when an Atlas player fouled the American in the box. The foul might have been too close to overturn, but that was another call that was highly suspicious. At the minimum, Gray should never have received the yellow.
In the end, the referee’s decisions did not impact the result. NYCFC won fair and square and played one of their better matches as of late.
That being said, it needs to be mentioned again that Atlas is not in top form. The Mexican side sits in 17th place in a table of 18 and have fallen significantly since their historic season. Hence, this win must be taken with a grain of salt, for the Pigeons need to beat the Red Bulls on Saturday to prove there is a chance of turning this season around.
At least New York City FC can celebrate another trophy and call themselves the 2022 Campeones Cup Champions. The win was well-deserved, and hopefully this will be the much-needed spark to get them back to winning ways.