On Saturday evening, New York City FC was in Canada to take on CF Montréal. Before the game could start, stormy weather delayed the match, leading to a later kickoff time of about 9:00 PM. The delay was truly worthy, for lightning was extremely close to the stadium.
Thankfully, both sides were able to get the game in, and like every single game on this recent road trip, NYCFC fans did not expect much. Of course, everyone wanted a win, but the recent streak made it difficult to believe in such positivity.
Meanwhile, James Sands was still away on international duty, and Gabriel Pereira did not get the start due to a slight knock. As such, Nick Cushing went with his backline of five, and used his left-back and right-back, Braian Cufré and Mitja Ilenič, as wingbacks. The defense has been predominantly solid, and has been a reason the team drew five in a row.
But, after 11 winless games in Major League Soccer, NYCFC has finally done what was seen as an impossible task: they won. The Pigeons defeated Montréal, 1-0, earning their first road win of the season, and fortunately they did not break the 2015 winless streak record.
NYCFC earns first road win and ends winless streak
Like most games this season, the offensive effort by New York City FC was lacking. The team had ten shots with seven on target, but Montréal’s goalkeeper, Jonathan Sirois, kept his side in the game with six saves, including some extremely easy ones. Still, the inability to score was clearly present.
However, the difference with this game was that the solid NYCFC defense completely finished the job. The awareness to get in front of Montréal players and block the ball, and then the 28 clearances, limited the home team’s opportunities. Additionally, Luis Barraza had three saves, including a vital one in the 75th minute to push the ball away from the bottom right corner of the goal.
As such, the clean sheet allowed NYCFC to grab all three points, but it was the unlikely hero, Matías Pellegrini, who led to the points earned.
In the 33rd minute, Cufré made a fantastic run up the left side of the pitch. He was aware of who was making their own runs toward goal, and sent the ball to Pellegrini. The Argentine, who received the start in place of Pereira, contorted his body and caused himself to have a horizontal-like bicycle kick as he received the ball. Then, he karate-kicked that ball right toward the top right corner with power, and put his team up in front.
This was a huge surprise, for Pellegrini is highly criticized by the fans. Mostly this is due to his high salary, for he earns way too much for how he plays and how little. Notably, this highlight-reel goal does not make up for his lack of contributions throughout the season, but it is good to see the winger finally find some success, and score his first goal of the season.
Moreover, that goal would end up as the game winner, and finally the Pigeons have won for the first time since April 22. This stretch was too long, and likely there are many doubts that continue to plague the minds of the supporters.
No one knows though what the future holds. This fixture could be the catalyst that changes the tide, and sends the Bronx side on a winning streak. At the same time, it could be a blip in the radar.
When all is said and done, at least for now, the future does not matter. Instead, let’s take the time to celebrate the fact New York City FC has won a game.