On Saturday, New York City FC faced the New England Revolution at home in the Bronx. The struggling Pigeons wanted to get their first win under Nick Cushing, for they failed to do so the previous weekend against Atlanta United FC.
Clearly the transition under Cushing has not been easy, and after a strong defensive effort before the international break, the struggles in the defense have been puzzling. Of course, the beautiful game is not just about talent and skill, but it is has the mental element as well. Players must have been impacted by Ronny Deila’s departure, and as such, it has led to a rocky start since play resumed in mid-June.
Despite the recent struggles, the Bronx side was finally able to overcome the challenge, and secure the first win under Cushing. NYCFC beat New England, 4-2, after penalty kick first half and a brilliant offensive performance.
The first half was actually a series of dramatics for the Pigeons. Not only did the team draw a penalty kick, but three penalty kick opportunities were rewarded. The second one was somewhat controversial, for it looked like Henry Kessler barely bumped into Valentín Castellanos. Some might say the decision was a 50-50, but there was barely any contact. Nevertheless, the Argentine was unable to covert that penalty kick, so all was fair in the end.
New York City FC secures first win under Nick Cushing
On the other hand, the first and third New York City FC penalty kicks were the correct decisions. Talles Magno was tripped in the box by the Revolution defender, Andrew Farrell, and as a result, the Brazilian stepped up to the spot to put NYCFC in front. In the 10th minute, Magno sent the goalkeeper, Đorđe Petrović, in the other direction before putting the ball in the bottom, right corner of goal.
Then, Farrell was once again the reason for the third penalty. The New England player shoved Castellanos down in the box, and subsequently was shown a red card. The striker for the Pigeons had an obvious path to take a shot on goal, and Farrell impeded the opportunity.
Like Magno, Castellanos stepped up to take the penalty in the 44th minute, and he too sent Petrović in the other direction. He did not hesitate like he did with the second penalty kick, and harshly sent the ball into the back of the net. Even if the New England goalkeeper went in the right direction, he likely would have been beaten on power and pace.
With the Revolution down to ten men for the entirety of the second half, it was expected the Pigeons would come away with all three points. As such, they did, and even added two more goals. Castellanos scored his second goal in the 82nd minute to secure the win for NYCFC, but it was the third goal by Gabriel Pereira in the 49th that was truly the goal of the match.
Originally, Pereira came on for Maxi Moralez at the start of the second half. He played well with his effortless runs and opportunity creations, but his goal made him the star of the show. It all started when New England gave up the ball on a poor pass, and the young Brazilian was able to intercept.
With speed and precision, he at first passed the ball to Castellanos, who took his chance on goal. However, the ball was saved, and deflected back to Pereira. With a couple of defenders and the goalkeeper in front of him, he took a small, fake shot which brought both Kessler and Petrović down to the ground. Right away, he maneuvered around the fallen Revolution players, and with one defender in front of him near goal, he swiftly put the ball into the back of the net. The skill and patience of the goal shows the potential Pereira has, and his soccer intelligence is truly off the charts.
When all is said and done, the NYCFC attackers created numerous opportunities, and truly put on an offensive masterclass. They controlled most of the game, and had 22 shots, with 11 on target. Without Petrović and his incredible performance, the Pigeons likely would have had a few more goals. Alas, the goalkeeper’s seven saves kept the Revolution in the match. In fact, the away team even added another goal in the second half, despite being down a man.
Finally, NYCFC has their first win under Cushing. There is still quite a bit of work to do, and there are concerns regarding the defense. Both goals given up by the Pigeons came after defensive errors, and it is concerning since fans know the team is extremely capable of playing better defensively.
Now, the pressure is on, for they need to improve, especially with away games against FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls coming up in the next week. But the first win is a start for New York City FC, and there are many matches left to be played.