NEW YORK — For the first time all season, Yankee Stadium provided us with green grass and above freezing temperatures as NYCFC (1-1-1) took on the San Jose Earthquakes (2-1-0,) their first Western Conference foe of the year.
In his debut for the Boys in Blue, Striker Bastian Schweinsteiger netted a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over the Earthquakes.
On a day that celebrates corny jokes and laughter, NYCFC proved to be hysterical in the first half of the match as many errors and horrendous defending led to an early 1-0 deficit (6th minute goal by San Jose striker Marco Urena.)
That deficit didn’t last long as David Villa provided us with another beautiful backheel flick-on in the 11th minute to set up Jack Harrison for his first goal of the season. Harrison smashed the pass from Villa right at San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham, who pushed the shot right into the bottom corner of his goal.
After heading into halftime locked in a 1-1 deadlock, NYCFC searched for an equalizer in the second half and found one through its cult hero, Tommy McNamara.
After being subbed on in the 63rd minute in place of a disappointing Andrea Pirlo, McNamara was the beneficiary of Ronald Mataritta’s unselfish pull back after he was through on goal thanks to another deadly backheel flick by Villa.
For someone who started 28 games last season, McNamara has yet to start this year for NYCFC. Despite that, McNamara’s persistence this year has warranted nothing from praise from head coach Patrick Vieira.
“Tommy’s attitude has been fantastic and really good,” said Vieira. “I love Tommy. Not always the player but the person. He showed me (today) that he deserved to be on the field.” After answering many questions, Vieira joked with reporters by saying it “looks like I have to start him next week.”
NYCFC was able to hold on to win by the score of 2-1, but it wasn’t pretty. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson bailed out NYCFC with three huge saves against clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities and centre-back Maxime Chanot proved to be a rock in the defense, making goal-saving tackle after tackle.
With this win, NYCFC has now seven points on the season and now unbeaten in 11 straight regular-season games at Yankee Stadium. Furthermore, NYCFC seems to be growing in maturity in the final stages in the match when holding the lead.
After blowing a 1-0 lead last match against Montreal, today was a big stepping stone for NYCFC as they proved two things: first that they can come from behind and second that they can hold onto the lead in the waning minutes.
If NYCFC wants to be successful this season, they are going to have to continue to hang on to leads and eliminate the errors that have caused all three of their goals against this season. If they fail to do so, fans may see NYCFC crumble in the playoffs like they did last year to Toronto.
It wasn’t pretty, but NYCFC found a way to come from behind and hold on to lead in the late stages of the game. The team looks to improve upon this win when they take on D.C. United for the second time this season on Saturday, April 8th.
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