NYCFC win in Philly, Union drop four in a row

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NYCFC’s Ronald Matarrita and Andre Pirlo with some nifty short passes against the Philadelphia Union’s C.J. Sapong (photo credit: Charlotte Thomas)

Another tough night in Chester as the Union fall 2-0 to NYCFC. The game started well for the Union, with the ball pinned in NYC’s half for much of the first half. But a reckless giveaway in front of the defensive box gave NYC an early goal in the second half, and the Union failed to pick up the pieces, finally falling after a wonder-goal from David Villa from almost half field. Frustration around as the Union looked uninspired, and failed to score at home.

Coach Jim Curtin made some tactical changes, bringing in Jack Elliott at center back, who showed good ball playing ability; and Roland Alberg at attacking midfield. Alberg didn’t seem to bring enough to the table offensively. He got himself involved, but never in and around the 18. As that #10 he needs to get in the box, or close enough to it to make a final killer pass. Friday night saw Alberg drop deep and switch the play more than playing a forward behind the defense. As more of a goal threat, however, it would be nice to see Alberg get up the field and support CJ Sapong instead of dropping back and trying to make passes.

Perhaps it wasn’t a case of the Union playing flat in the second half, however, as NYCFC looked deadly going forward in the last 40 minutes. David Villa supported his midfielders with aplomb, and Alexander Ring bossed the midfield. Jack Harrison, notching the first goal, was lively and was a handful for Fabinho. NYCFC’s ability to play the ball into the box from all angles gave problems for the Union, and it was Andre Blake who ended up with a strong performance, making several great saves from shots in his box.

Lets take a look at the match summary, my thoughts on the game, line-ups, and box score.

Jack Harrison was instrumental for NYCFC on Friday night, breaking down the Union defense (photo credit: Charlotte Thomas)

Summary:

The first chance for the Union came in the 9th minute. Pontius took a ball behind from Haris Medunjanin, and put a cross for Alejandro Bedoya whose flicked header fell nicely to Ilsinho. The Brazilian scuffed his shot wide, but into the path of CJ Sapong. Sapong dove feet first to the ball but was unable to get anything on it,as it rolled wide.

First chance for NYC fell to the danger man David Villa. Alexander Ring cut in front of Jack Elliott and laid off a great back-heeled flick for Villa at the edge of the box. The Spainiard shanked his shot and sent it out for a throw.

Blake made his first save in the 22nd minute off a Jack Harrison curling effort. The NYC attacker picked up a loose ball after Maxi Moralez made a great open field tackle on Medunjanin. Harrison didn’t get enough on the shot however, as Blake got two hands to parry for a corner.

A great attempt from Alejandro Bedoya in the 27th minute was parried comfortably by Sean Johnson in the New York goal. A diagonal ball from Roland Alberg found Ilsinho’s head by the corner of NYC’s 18. He nodded the ball down for the oncoming Bedoya who did well to keep his shot low, but Johnson had no problems parrying at his near post.

A set of wonderful saves from Marquez and Blake in the 30th minute just barely kept the Union scoreless. A pulled back cross for David Villa by Rodney Wallace was first blocked by Marquez, lying down to take the shot in the torso amid handball shouts from the visitors. The second ball fell for NYC and was put wide by a fantastic save from Blake. Moralez tried to hit it with his instep, but by elevating it put it level with Blake, who dove to his left well to bat away the mid-height shot.

Alberg scuffed another scrappy chance after Sapong’s initial opportunity in the 33rd minute. Sapong did enough to kill a cross from Pontius atop the 6. It left Alberg and the NYC center backs in a 50/50, which won but bounced past the NYC net for a goal kick.

0-0 at the half. Union look much more alive than against Portland, but without that goal weren’t in the an advantageous position. Curtin seemed to have prepared well this week and is getting a good performance so far. A shutout is certainly a good sign, and with the danger up top there was promise. But things fell apart here, and the hard work put in by Union players became an afterthought as NYC took control.

Rodney Wallace helped create chances for NYCFC wide but it was a difficult task against Keegan Rosenberry (photo credit: Charlotte Thomas)

The first goal of the game went to NYC in the 52nd minute. Jack Harrison jumped on the end of a great through ball from Ronald Matarrita and slotted past Blake from 11 yards out. It was initially a bad touch from Keegan Rosenberry (thought meant to be a pass for either Bedoya or Elliott), and three Union players watched the ball as Matarrita pounced, playing it first-timed into the path of Harrison.

Blake once again made himself big to deny a goal in the 66th minute. The ball swung from left to right as right back Ethan White found acres of space down the wing. He marauded into the right side of the 18, but took the ball too wide, allowing Blake to close the angle and make a reflex save.

NYC continued to pressure, with a flurry of chances in the 69th minute. Blake came off his line to deny the first shot, and took a hit in the process from Ring. The second ball came to Wallace, but his shot was cleared off the line by Richie Marquez as the chip was too weak to trouble the defender. After a couple seconds another chance came, but Villa skied his effort from 20 yards in traffic.

NYC piled on the attempts, forcing another good save from Blake in the 84th minute. Meanwhile, chances for the Union look few and far between. A good layoff in the box by Villa led to a stinging shot that was just too close to Blake. The Jamaican dealt with the first shot, but put it back in the danger zone. The follow up from Villa was lacking and went over the bar.

The Union failed to get any sort of possession in the last 15 minutes. There was no press, and the attack looked sloppy as time winded down.

The icing on the cake was a thing of beauty from David Villa. Jack Elliott didn’t deal with a bouncing ball correctly, and The Spaniard volleyed from near half, catching Blake off his line. The ball came down nicely just under the bar and over the outstretched hand of Blake.

The game ended 2-0, with NYC finishing strong. The Union failed to get much going and faltered in the second half, gifting NYC a goal and the game.

Thoughts:

Union controlling the first 10 minutes, NYC has had one real attack, but no attackers in the box for an open cross.

Ilsinho looking very sharp in the first 15, he is making tackles, winning possession, and looking a nuisance on offense for the NYC defenders.

NYC has exploited the channel between Elliott and Rosenberry a few times. Rosenberry got caught too far forward, and neither picked up the player or the ball. Several chances arose because of this shortcoming.

20th minute and things have evened out. NYC starting to look more dangerous on the counter.

It seems like its Alberg’s job defensively is to man mark Pirlo. Two low energy players keeping each other in check. To his credit Alberg has done terrifically to contain the wily Italian.

Another swing in play for the Union at the 35th minute as NYC can’t get the ball out of it’s half. A few Union chances from it but nothing to really worry Johnson in net.

What Bedoya is doing so effectively, in the first half at least, is to be a late runner from midfield. He brings the overload and puts defenders in awkward positions if midfielders don’t follow his run. This is something Derrick Jones could certainly do better. He fell off in the second half, and couldn’t seem to get on the ball at all in attacking positions.

NYC has a player biting at their heels whenever trying to get out of the half. It is making the job of the forwards difficult, but Villa and Harrison are holding the ball well, and Wallace is making terrific runs in the channel. His cut back crosses have found the mark and a finish will be all NYC needs if they continue to find that seam.

First 10 minutes of the second half and NYC are first to every loose ball, and winning most 50/50’s. The goal came from a big Union mistake, but does show the flow of the half so far.

Ring is everywhere, putting in a great performance in the midfield for NYC. He is an engine that allows Pirlo the freedom to float.

The 55th to 75th minutes have shown dominance for NYC. They don’t look like conceding and look dangerous on the attack. The gaps are opening up and 1 good counter could seal the deal.

Whatever momentum the Union possessed in the first half died abruptly in the second half. Just as against Portland a tied game at half fell apart with 2 second half goals, one of which coming in stoppage time. There has to be a concerted effort in the locker room at half, as the second half looked considerably more sloppy.

Line-ups:

Andre Blake (18)

Keegan Rosenberry (12), Jack Elliott (3), Richie Marquez (16), Fabinho (33)

Alejandro Bedoya (11), Haris Medunjanin (6)

Ilsinho (25), Roland Alberg (10), Chris Pontius (13)

CJ Sapong (17)

Rodney Wallace (23), David Villa (7), Jack Harrison (11)

Maximiliano Moralez (10), Alexander Ring (8)

Andre Pirlo (21)

Ronald Matarrita (22), Aleander Callens (6), Maxime Chanot (4), Ethan White (3)

Sean Johnson (1)

Box Score:

Yellow PHL: Jack Elliott 25’

Yellow NYC: Alexander Ring 43’

Goal NYC: Jack Harrison 52’

Yellow NYC: Ronald Matarrita 55’

Sub PHL: Fabian Herbers (14) for Chris Pontius 60’

Sub PHL: Adem Najem (24) for Roland Alberg 71’

Sub NYC: Khiry Shelton (19) for Jack Harrison 71’

Sub NYC: Yangel Herrera (30) for Andrea Pirlo 77’

Sub PHL: Jay Simpson (27) for Ilsinho 77’

Goal NYC: David Villa 90’

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