In what proved to be a rather tepid affair, New York City Football Club could not stamp its inaugural MLS game with a win.
Up a goal after Mix Diskerud scored the franchise’s first ever goal, and up a man after Aurelien Collin was shown a straight red in the 83rd minute, New York will feel two points were left in Orlando.
- In a game where not everything went to plan, the back four looked like a cohesive unit. Jason Hernandez and Chris Wingert coped with Carlos Rivas’ speed, and demonstrated authority in the box during open and set plays. Both players should form a solid partnership at the center of New York’s defense.
- Whether Jason Kreis decides to keep or forego his midfield diamond, it appears that he’s found another viable tandem in Mix Diskerud and Andrew Jacobson – at least until Frank Lampard arrives in the summer. With Jacobson doing the dirty work behind him, Diskerud should become the team’s offensive catalyst.
- New York’s inability to stretch the field stalled much of its attacking play, and allowed Orlando City to easily clog up the middle of the field and close passing lanes. The lack of passing options meant that NYCFC had to resort to long balls, which prevented David Villa from having any influence in the game.
- While it was only the first game of the season, New York played at too pedestrian a pace. The problem could be rooted in Kreis’ formation of choice; nevertheless, there was also a lack of dynamism from the players. That was made clear when Khiry Shelton’s introduction raised the level of play.
Player Ratings (1-10)
Josh Saunders (7)
An awkward headfirst collision into the goalpost after being clattered by Orlando City’s Seb Hines in the 13th minute, could have spelled early doom for the veteran goalkeeper. However, Saunders shook off his injury, and put in a safe and encouraging performance. NYCFC’s number one was dominant in the box – particularly when challenged by crosses – and made two big saves to keep Kaka and Kevin Molino from scoring. Saunders was helpless to prevent Orlando’s goal.
Josh Williams (6)
The defender had a solid first outing on the right side of the back four. Isolated at times due to NYCFC’s diamond formation, Williams kept Lewis Neal honest for most of the game, and only found himself in trouble when Brek Shea overlapped successfully. Most of New York’s better attacking occurred when Williams stretched the field offensively. He found Adam Nemec’s head in the 8th minute with a deep cross, and barely failed to connect with David Villa in early in the second half.
Jason Hernandez (7)
It was an almost mistake-free performance from the defender, who shared his Carlos Rivas marking duties with Chris Wingert. Apart from getting beaten once by the Rivas, Hernandez never looked outmatched against the speedy Colombian. The native New Yorker was timely with his tackling, and an almost insurmountable obstacle in the box, intercepting numerous crosses. His partnership with fellow New Yorker, Chris Wingert, looks like a good one.
Chris Wingert (7)
The versatile defender looked at home in the middle of New York’s defense. Faced with a much faster player in Rivas, Wingert didn’t allow the Colombian much room to maneuver when he had his back to goal, and kept a good offside trap that neutralized some of Orlando’s counterattacks. Like Hernandez, Wingert was a magnet in his own box, beating his opponents to any balls in his vaccinity. A timely tackle to prevent a shot from Kaka at the edge of the box may have been his most important contribution.
Jeb Brovsky (6)
Playing in an unfamiliar position at left-back, Brovsky was defensively solid throughout the game, and was unfortunate to have Kaka’s free kick deflect off him for the tying goal. In the first half, the defender rarely contributed offensively, preventing New York from stretching the field on the left, and forcing the team to attack mostly down the right. The full-back took more risks in the second half, which coincided with NYCFC’s growing dominance. Curiously, Brovsky was involved in two incidents that resulted in yellow cards being shown to Molino and Cristian Higuita for diving.
Andrew Jacobson (6)
The holding midfielder in Jason Kreis’ diamond, Jacobson didn’t venture forward too much, concentrating instead on supporting the back four, and preventing Orlando from threatening on the counter – especially through Kaka. More involved in the first half than he was in the second, Jacobson closed down Orlando’s players well, and looked very comfortable in possession.
Ned Grabavoy (6)
It was the midfielder’s silly foul that resulted in Kaka’s game-tying free kick in the 90th minute. The foul was symptomatic of Grabavoy’s game, which was peppered with mistakes throughout. Still, the former Real Salt Lake player showed why he earned his reputation as workhorse. Grabavoy covered every inch of the turf field, harassed his opponents, and involved himself in most of New York’s fruitless offensive processes.
Mehdi Ballouchy (4.5)
The former Red Bull never looked comfortable on the right side of New York’s midfield diamond, even though he didn’t make any major errors. His positioning was suspect, and he left Williams to fend against Neal and Shea on a few occasions. A positional swap with Grabavoy didn’t help matters much, and probably only served to highlight his inability to influence the game.
Player of the game – Mix Diskerud (7.5)
The Norwegian born American showed why his signing was so well received by NYCFC supporters. Besides scoring the franchise’s first ever goal with a sublime curling shot, Diskerud constantly looked to have the ball at his feet, often collecting it from the back four, and pushing it up the field. With Orlando sitting deep, it was Diskerud creatively pulling the strings in an attempt to find a way to goal. Most of what worked for New York found its genesis at the national team player’s feet.
David Villa (5)
It was a frustrating debut for New York’s marquee player. Through no fault of his own, the game completely bypassed the Spaniard. With the NYCFC unable to spread the game, Orlando City clogged the middle of the field, making it impossible for the captain to find space. Villa did manage to find some time on the ball when he drifted to the wings, where he assisted Diskerud’s goal in the 75th minute.
Adam Nemec (5)
Nemec could have started his MLS career with a bang had he managed to successfully direct William’s early cross towards the goal. Unfortunately, the wayward header was a preview of what was to come, as the Slovak spent much of his time chasing down long balls, with only a few landing at his teammates’ feet. Nemec should have done better when Shelton found him at the top of the box.
Khiry Shelton (6)
The young winger may have only spent thirty minutes on the field, but his introduction tilted the game in New York’s favor. Shelton’s pace on the right wing opened up the game, and prevented Shea from pushing up as much as he did when Ballouchy was on the field. Perhaps, Shelton should have scored in the 67th minute after nice work from Diskerud and Nemec.
Sebastian Velasquez (N/A)
Javier Calle (N/A)