NYCFC finally beats Charlotte FC after come-from-behind win

  • NYCFC finally won against Charlotte FC with a 2-1 win
  • The come-from-behind victory was not perfect but the Pigeons got the job done
NYCFC / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, New York City FC was back in city blue when they welcomed Charlotte FC to the Bronx.  As many know, the team has only won in the 24/7 kits, which is merely a coincidence.  They looked to get their first win in the Interboro kit and win their third match in a row.

However, the Pigeons have never beaten the Crown entering the fixture.  Four losses and a draw hung over the heads of the players and fans, including the loss to start the 2024 season.  Not only was it vital to continue the winning streak, but they wanted to break the non-winning streak against Charlotte.

Meanwhile, Mounsef Bakrar was hoping to get his first goal.  The Algerian has struggled to find the back of the net, increasing the pressure and criticism.  His play has been good, but since he is a striker, the lack of goals makes his performances less than satisfactory. 

For the first time in NYCFC history, the Pigeons beat Charlotte FC 2-1.  The come-from-behind win was not perfect but they finally got those three points over their recent kryptonite.

NYCFC finally beats Charlotte FC

Unfortunately, a defensive mishap early on in the third minute led Charlotte to take the lead.  Kerwin Vargas had plenty of room in front of him when he put the ball past Matt Freese, who had back-to-back clean sheets in his last two games.  Nobody was marking the player, so it was an easy shot on goal when he received the ball from Nikola Petković.

That did not stop NYCFC, for they did not back down.  They aggressively fought in the first half, maintaining most of the possession and threatening the Charlotte defense.  They kept winning free kicks and corner kicks.  Eventually, the hard work paid off and the Pigeons leveled the match.

After a foul, the Bronx side had a free kick.  Julián Fernández sent the ball into the box, and who was there?  It was Keaton Parks, who jumped high to send a free header into the left side of the goal in the 41st minute.  He directed it into the right place, leaving Charlotte’s goalkeeper, Kristijan Kahlina, stuck in the mud, or in this case, the grass.

A draw was not the end goal, for NYCFC knew they had to go one step further.  The second half at first did not go as planned though, at least at first.  The Pigeons had spurts of energy and offensive effort, but the spark from the first was not completely there.  The energy and effort continued to die down as the second 45 minutes progressed.

To make matters worse, Bakrar almost had his first goal of the season, but he was slightly offside, subsequently canceling what would have been the game-winner.  The striker also had a shot go off the post of goal, adding to his season of bad luck.  He was a threat in the attack and did well to assist his team with moving up the pitch, but the inability to score plagued him again.

In some ways, it was similar to the loss against the Portland Timbers.  The first half was fantastic while the second half saw the team reduce their level of play minute by minute.  By the end, they were gassed.  The difference was one opportunity.  One moment.

In stoppage time, Santiago Rodríguez ran up the right side of the pitch and picked out the substitute Alonso Martínez.  He sent the ball to the Costa Rican, who with one flick, scored the game-winner.  It was an incredible moment, for everyone in that stadium knew the team was a few minutes away from their first win over the Crown.

While the win was incredible, there was a scary moment for Thiago Martins soon after.  The defender ran into the shoulder of a Charlotte player, with his head making serious contact.  At first, he could not get up and it even looked like he was unconscious.  The silence of the fans and the urgency of the medical staff showed the fear that showered over Yankee Stadium.  Thankfully, the captain was able to get up after, and the team utilized the concussion substitution.

It was a wild ride, but NYCFC finally beat Charlotte FC.  It would be the icing on the cake if they can finish off the homestand with a win next week.  More importantly, hopefully, Martins has not suffered a serious concussion after that clash.