New York City FC inaugurated Yankee Stadium with a convincing win against Eastern Conference champions, New England.
Player ratings and reactions below:
Josh Saunders (7)
Saunders didn’t have the busiest of nights, but strong winds – especially in the first half – and two New England scoring opportunities required the keeper to be at his sharpest. The save he made off of JuanAgudelo’s point-blank header will likely be the one on the highlight reel, but his instinctual leg-save in the 12th minute was arguably more impressive. It was also Saunders’ long punt in the in 65th minute that found its way to an open Khiry Shelton and resulted in a straight red being shown to José Gonçalves.
Saunders on the windy conditions:
“Anything that got over eight or ten feet was going to come back at us.”
Josh Williams (5)
The right full-back didn’t have the best home debut. Unlike against Orlando, Williams looked uncomfortable and often over-matched by Diego Fegundez and Chris Tierney. To be fair, some of William’s troubles were the consequence of miscommunication with Sebastian Velasquez. The two pointed fingers at each other in the 36th minute when Tierney’s low cross into the back post almost led to an equalizer, after the New England left-back found himself in acres of space. Williams was fortunate Kelyn Rowe’s lob went wide in the 42nd minute, after he failed to pick up the winger’s incisive run.
Jason Hernandez (7)
The center-back had another encouraging performance against New England. Except for two occasions when Agudelo was able to finds space – one of those occasions forcing Saunders into a huge save – Hernandez kept the forward relatively quiet. Much like last week, the veteran intercepted most the crosses that came his way in the box, and looked assured on the ball during possession.
Hernandez on the windy conditions:
“I think you saw the difference [in the wind] in the two halves. In the first, we were on our heals a little bit.”
Chris Wingert (7)
The converted center-back looked at home in his new position, once again. An early yellow card could have made life very difficult for Wingert, but the versatile defender played calmly for the rest of the game, leaving most of the marking duties to Hernandez. Wingert continues to impress with his reading of the game and ability to play out of the back.
Jeb Brovsky (7)
Another sound and convincing performance by the left-back. Brovsky played it safe in the first half, leaving much of the wing attacking to Ned Grabavoy, but became more involved offensively in the second. His give-and-go with Mix Diskerud on the left resulted in one of the moments of the game, when Bobby Shuttleworth parried David Villa’s volley. Defensively, Brovsky looks very much the part.
Sebastian Velasquez (6.5)
The winger hit the ground running in his first start. Velasquez saw a lot of the ball early on, showed confidence in possession, and at attacking his defenders. In the 15th minute his pass found David Villa on the right side of the penalty box, whose low diagonal shot was parried. The only knock on Velasquez was his defensive positioning on a few occasions, which put Williams under pressure.
Andrew Jacobson (7)
Jacobson’s performance may have gone unnoticed such was the simplicity of his display. More defensively minded than Diskerud, the midfielder’s positioning throughout the game was exemplary. Jacobson provided cover for Hernandez and Wingert, often compensated for the runs of Grabavoy and Velazquez, and his interceptions in the midfield frequently catalyzed the team’s attacks. His tendency to sit back enabled Diskerud push further forward in the second half.
Mix Diskerud (7)
The midfielder had more touches than anyone of the field (97). It is becoming apparent that everything New York does offensively goes through Diskerud’s feet, and the US international is not shying away from the responsibility. Diskerud’s creative sparks were evident when he found Villa in the box with a perfectly measured cross in the 62nd minute, and in the 68th, when his trivela pass found an unmarked Shelton, who couldn’t do better than scuff his shot. Mix’ work-rate on the defensive side was also noticeable.
Ned Grabavoy (8)
Villa will get most of the plaudits, but the former RSL man deserves a fair share of the praise. Grabavoy was excellent and tirelessly tenacious from start to finish. He hounded New England’s ball carriers, and propelled his team forward, time and again, always looking to find Villa’s diagonal runs. Grabavoy assisted the captain’s goal in the 19th minute after a perfectly executed one-two, and he released the forward again in the 84th, in the move that culminated in Patrick Mullins’ goal. If Grabavoy maintains this sort of form, he’ll surely become a fan favorite.
Grabavoy on his performance and team’s offensive fluidity:
“I’ve been dealing with a leg issue – I’ve been working on that the last two weeks. As this week went on, I felt better and better.”
“The guys stopped over-thinking, and just naturally played. That’s how it looks in training. Good to see it translate onto the pitch.”
David Villa (8)
The man of the match, Villa will go down in history as the first NYCFC player to score a goal at Yankee stadium. The Spaniard’s goal was an example of how clinical he can be with the right service, although, he should have scored another two goals. In contrast to the season’s opening game in Orlando, Villa found room to maneuver, with and without the ball, making life very difficult for New England’s defenders. As good as his finish was, it was his assist to Mullins that stole the show, especially given how easily he got past Scott Caldwell.
Grabavoy on David Villa’s goals:
“I don’t think I’ve gone through a week of training and not seen David sharp.”
Adam Nemec (7)
While NYCFC fans will want to see Nemec score, the Slovakian’s work-rate is just as important. Nemec defended from the front, fought for every ball, and held up the ball impeccably. He should have scored in the 5th minute when David Villa found him wide-open in the box, but then again, Villa should have as well when the roles were reversed in the 48th minute. Nemec’s importance during defensive set-pieces was also obvious, with the big forward winning a number of headers at the first post.
Khiry Shelton (6)
The winger substituted Velasquez in the 65th minute and immediately impacted the game when Gonçalves brought him down less than a minute later. Shelton should have scored three minutes later when Diskerud found him with a through-ball.
Shay Facey (N/A)
Came in for Williams when New York had control of the game, but managed to show poise on the ball, and strength in the tackle.
Patrick Mullins (N/A)
The forward hadn’t been on the field a minute when he slotted Villa’s assist into goal after making a smartly timed second post run in the 84th minute.