NYCFC and DC United met for the first time ever Thursday night at Yankee stadium in front of a crowd of over 28,000.
By MLS standards, DC United is a storied franchise with three US Open Cups, four MLS cups and four support shields.
DC United currently sits firmly on top of the Eastern Conference – 20 points above NYCFC. They also lead in fouls committed.
DC does not have the stars like their competitor’s in New York but the Ben Olsen coached squad just finds ways to win (13-5-7).
The squad, from our nation’s capital, even won a game against Montreal last week with just one shot in the whole match.
Forward Chris Rolfe scored the goal – the only shot of the game for the team – the first time in MLS history a team has won with only one shot on goal.
The expansion franchise, NYCFC, came into the match-up desperate for a win after suffering back-to-back losses and sitting in 8th place (6-116) – two spots outside a play-off berth.
Coming into the game they needed between 20 and 24 points to make the play-off’s with just 11 games left in the season.
Their most recent loss was to their rivals, the New York Red Bulls. The loss gave the Red Bulls a clean 3-0 sweep of the first round of the New York/Hudson River derby.
Frank Lampard would again be out for Thursday’s game after being replaced by Kwadwo Poku. Lampard, who had previously been nursing a calf injury, came up lame again with a quad-strain during Wednesday’s training.
Tail of two halves
During the first half NYCFC had multiple opportunities that they couldn’t convert and DC United again found a way to take advantage of the few chances they did have.
Chris Rolfe intercepted a pass from Andrea Pirlo that lead to a long run and assist to Alvaro Saborio who took it off the inside of the right goal post in the 36th minute (Saborio 5th goal of the year). This put DC United ahead 0-1.
It was a bad give-away. Pirlo tried to play a simple ball back to his defenders but failed to see the speedy Rolfe racing down the middle of the field and the two DC forwards made him pay.
It was starting to look like it was just going to be another one of those nights for NYCFC in the first half.
David Villa had another amazing chance to equalize near the end of the first half with an open goal shot that defender Bobby Boswell raced in front of to somehow deflect. It was a shot that Villa makes 99 out of 100 times.
New York would end the half down by one and the fans in Yankee Stadium scratching their heads.
The 2nd half was a different story for New York
In the 50th minute, David Villa played a great long-ball from midfield to find a streaking Kwadwo Poku. Puku stood up and then went around NYCFC goalkeeper, Bill Hamid, then took his time and waited for Tommy MacNamara to make his way to the box. He ultimately laid out the assist to equalize the match 1-1.
After being burned in the first half, Pirlo finally got his revenge by setting up David Villa for his 14th goal of the season and put NYFC on top late in the match 2-1.
After stealing a pass himself, Pirlo turned and split the DC defenders with a perfectly placed ball that only he could have completed to Villa. Villa then finished with the two defenders on his back.
Villa received a yellow card after scoring the goal for ripping off his jersey but it was worth it and Yankee Stadium was a-rockin!
NYCFC got insurance in the 88th minute thanks to Poku’s right foot. It would be Poku’s second goal of the season and NYCFC’s third of the match. Poku had a great game filling in for Lampard with both a goal and an assist.
The final score was 3-1 and New York fans could finally breathe a sigh of relief because City’s roller coaster season was still alive.
NYCFC has the fire-power to keep the momentum going but they need to convert on more of the opportunities they get. NYCFC out shot DC United by 17-5 and had the chances to put the game away in the first half.
Next up for NYCFC is the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night.
Will the expansion NYCFC make the play-offs?