By Ivan Yeo
All New York City FC needed was two chances on Saturday night.
The Los Angeles Galaxy were all over NYCFC on Saturday night, out-possessing the visitors and creating the better chances in this glamour matchup between two of MLS’ big-time franchises. NYCFC however waited patiently until they themselves got their shot, and once they did, they took advantage. Two spectacular second half goals, the first from Jonathan Lewis and the second from David Villa combined with the hot goalkeeping of Sean Johnson enabled New York City to continue the home woes of the Galaxy in its 2-0 win at the StubHub Center.
“I thought we defended really well of course Sean [Johnson] had a fantastic game,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said. “At times we could say yes we were lucky but today it was on our side and I think to bring the luck to your side you have to play well. As a team it was a really strong performance.”
After a scoreless first half, NYCFC edged ahead in the 54th minute. Jonathan Lewis took a ball near the midline, cut inside and sprinted for goal, Lewis evaded Jermaine Jones’ sliding challenge, took another touch on the ball before firing a shot at the upper goal area that sailed past keeper Brian Rowe and grazed the bottom of the crossbar before crossing the goal line to give New York the lead. New York made the most of another opportunity 20 minutes later, as David Villa had the ball just outside the penalty rea. David Villa evaded the LA defense, then shot a volley off his left foot that beat Rowe far post.
The two goals were much needed for NYCFC, as the Galaxy were buzzing around the visitor’s goal for much of the evening, but were never able to achieve the breakthrough. The Galaxy came close to pushing a goal across in the 40th minute when Romain Alessandrini sent a free kick into the six-yard box, the ball was cleared out, but it went to Pele Van Anholt, who fired a screamer at goal, but keeper Sean Johnson got his right hand on the ball, parrying it over the crossbar. LA had another chance right at the start of the half, as Emmanuel Boateng received a ball from Jonathan Dos Santos and dribbled past the NYCFC defense on his way into the penalty area. Boateng got close to the endline but Sean Johnson made the sliding save on Boateng’s chance.
Even after falling behind, LA continued to press the issue. In the 69th minute, Alessandrini crossed a ball into the six, Johnson got a piece of the cross, but not enough to clear it out, the ball fell to Ashley Cole, and he let loose a rocket, which beat Johnson, but did not beat the framework, as the ball bounced off the crossbar and over the endline. Johnson was big two more times in the second half, the first on a Jack McInerney header on the 80th minute and the second on a Gyasi Zardes shot inside the 18-yard box in the 84th minute.
“The guys aren’t happy with the results and neither are the fans,” Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought from a soccer standpoint, we played really well. We deserved to come out of that game with more. When you look at the game, I thought we dominated the game. When you look at the chances that we created and the corners we got and the possession and everything else, I thought the team played pretty well.”
NYCFC will next host the New England Revolution next Sunday, while the Galaxy will have some extended time off, as their next match won’t be until August 23, when they travel to Columbus to face the Crew.