NEW YORK — “O Canada” was sung for the first time this year at Yankee Stadium as NYCFC took on the Montreal Impact, their toughest opponent of the season so far. After ninety minutes of action in the frigid cold, NYCFC squandered three points and drew with Montreal by the score of 1-1.
Continuing off of their blowout performance over D.C. United last week, NYCFC came out of the gates aggressive as usual by controlling possession and creating good goal-scoring opportunities.
Despite creating close-range scoring opportunities, NYCFC could not find the finishing touch, as both Jack Harrison and Alexander Ring missed the goal from just in front of the six-yard box in the 3rd and 19th minute respectively.
David Villa looked to finally put one away for NYCFC in the 26th minute when he was through on goal, but his chip attempt of Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush sailed a few feet wide.
After 44 minutes of “close but no cigar” moments, NYCFC found its opener via Rodney Wallace, who has now scored in each of his first two home matches at Yankee Stadium.
Wallace has not completed a full 90 minutes this year but has been electric every minute he is on the field. According to head coach Patrick Vieira, Wallace’s goal today was nothing but deserved.
“Fully deserved,” said Vieira following the match. “He is a team player and he gives everything when he is on the field.”
After holding a 1-0 lead at the break, NYCFC came out to start the second half looking to extend their slim lead.
Eerily similar to the first half, chances in front of goal were not being capitalized upon as Maxi Moralez had a clear chance in front of goal on a ball in from Wallace but sliced it wide.
As fate foreshadowed in Orlando, not converting chances will not earn you three points. Fate came back to haunt NYCFC as Montreal found an equalizer in the 68th minute through a Dominic Oduro goal, leaving the team in a rut for the following few minutes.
“It took the wind out of our sails a little bit because it came out of nothing,” said goalkeeper Sean Johnson. “I think we did well to shake it off and keep on going… at the end of the day, we played the way we wanted to play.”
Even with the attack-minded substitutions of Jonathan Lewis and Tommy MacNamara, NYCFC could not break the tie, thus squandering three points against the Eastern Conference finalists from a year ago.
“Really frustrated because I think we should win this game and take the three points because of the way we played and the number of chances we created,” Vieira said in front of the press.
Today’s game was also a bit of Deja Vu for Vieira, as last year on April 27th, Dominic Oduro scored a header in the 91st minute to secure a 1-1 draw for the Impact.
“Yeah I think the game today was a Deja Vu,” said Vieira. “I remember last year it was the same kind of scenario, because we controlled the game, we were the better team, and we only get the point.”
On a positive note, today’s game showed NYCFC and its fans how dangerous Rodney Wallace could be. Despite being a late signing for NYCFC and not being the highest profile signing this offseason in Major League Soccer, Wallace has shown everyone that he is one of the best-attacking players in the league.
Wallace rightfully earned Man of the Match following today’s game and showed signs throughout the match of his elite attacking ability, as his pace and quality in front of goal has been impeccable this season, earning many a praise from his manager.
“He has a really good attitude in the dressing room and all the players like him,” said Vieira. It is clear that Vieira has great faith in Wallace and, more notably, knows that an entirely fit Rodney Wallace is going to be needed for NYCFC as they continue throughout the season.
Going forward, NYCFC needs to finish in front of goal. It is certainly okay to concede a goal here or there but drawing a match in which you should have scored at least four goals is unacceptable. No man at Yankee Stadium seemed to understand that today more than Vieira, as the frustration was evident in his demeanor following the match.
“If you don’t take your chances you will leave the door open for the opposing team,” stated Vieira. “The best way to improve is to keep working hard. I don’t have any doubt about the talent or the quality of the players.”
Although the wins aren’t there, the chances are, and that is the important part for NYCFC. Now, in future games, the chances need to be buried away and not wasted like they were today.
For the second straight year, NYCFC opens up their season with the record of 1-1-1. Next up for NYCFC are the San Jose Earthquakes, who entered into this Saturday tied atop the Western Conference with six points from two games played.