|Ismael Tajouri of NYCFC. USA Today Sports.|
New York City Football Club beat Orlando City SC, 2-0, on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, with both goals coming in the second half.
NYCFC improved to 3-0-0 on the season, the first time they have done so in their history. It is the longest they have remain unbeaten since their inaugural season in 2015. That season, they had a win and two draws in their first three games, so this squad is off to their best start ever, talking all nine possible points so far this season.
NYCFC was without star forward David Villa and their new right back Anton Tinnerholm, who both scored in last weekend's home opening win over LA Galaxy.
Ismael Tajorui and Saad Abdul-Salaam got the call to start, and they made the most of it.
In the 62nd minute, Tajouri took advantage when Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik could not corral a pass back to him from Amro Tarek.
NYCFC was pressuring in the left corner when Tarek passed it back to Bendik, and it deflected off his shin to Tajouri a few feet in front of him at the top of the box, and Tajouri buried it to make it 1-0.
This was Tajouri's first goal for NYCFC, and it came in his first start,and he said of that, “It was a great feeling...first goal was a really great feeling, but it is more important that we take the three points at home.Three [wins] in a row is really important.”
Tajouri said of his calm reaction getting the ball from the Orlando City goalkeeper, “Yeah, I think this was a gift from the goalkeeper but the first time I think I didn’t shoot directly...I stayed calm and I took it with my right foot. I don’t score with my right foot but this was a good choice.”
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of choosing Tajouri for the lineup, "I think when you identify players that you want to bring to the football club you look at the quality and if they’re a good fit for the system you want to play. I think Ismael is a really good player one against one, and he’s really good in tight, small space. He’s really comfortable with the ball and he’s got pace. He’s really calm and composed and he’s a goal scorer, so this element goes really good with the way we want to play the game and I think today was good. He played a position where he wasn’t used to it, but he worked hard for the team and he managed to score a goal, so it was a really good day for him and for the team.”
NYCFC struck again in the 74th minute, when Abdul-Salaam and Jesus Media set up Maxi Moralez for a strike from the top right corner of the box, and he buried it to make it 2-0.
Medina has either scored or assisted in each of his three NYCFC appearances.
The only downside on the afternoon for NYCFC was that Ronald Mataritta left the game in the 72nd minute, just six minutes after the game. He was replaced by Tommy McNamara, who received a nice ovation.
Vieira said of attacking players expressing themselves more in the second half after having trouble breaking through early in the game, “I think Orlando made it difficult for us. I think it was really difficult for us to play between the lines because they were really compact, but I think we kept our organization and of course the mistakes that they made, we finished, but it was really difficult and it was difficult for us to find the space to play and express themselves. That’s why I think this game made me more happy than the other games we’ve played so far because in this one we kept our organization, we kept our discipline on the field and we waited for the right time. When they made their mistakes we took our chances and I don’t think it was our fault, I thought it was Orlando making it really difficult for us.”
On a new rotation and different players like Tajouri earning chances, “When we talk about last season, part of the game that really needed to improve was the goals that we conceded. I think last year we conceded too many goals and we changed some way that we defend against. So far it’s good, but it’s still only three games and there’s so many games in front of us, but I think having Salaam play today, it just showed how much good work goes into training where everybody understands their role and responsibilities. This is good.”
NYCFC forward Rodney Wallace said of their 3-0 start, “That’s what we’re looking for - consistency. Being three games that we’ve now won and we’ve put up good results, good performances, it’s good for us.”
NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson earned the shutout, and he said of their winning this one with many key players out, “Yeah I think if you’ve looked at the three games we’ve played so far, that’s been the story of our games. Maxi was out the first game, Seb [Ibeagha] steps in, Seb [Ibeagha] steps into the second game, David [Villa]’s out, Ismael’s in - pretty much anybody that steps in is doing their job and that’s what we need. I know the focus in the offseason was bringing in players to really sure up the depth of the team, and now we’ve got that and everybody’s really stepping up when they get the opportunity and as teammates, that’s the only way we’re going to be successful this year.”
Johnson said of the defensive effort from NYCFC, “I think if you look, not only at the guys in front of me, but all the players on the pitch, I think it’s a total effort the way we play, the way we press, the way we defend, the way we cover for each other when we’re in bad spots when we turn the ball over, I think it’s the one thing that we really needed to get better from last year, the reaction when a ball turns over, the reaction when a guy’s out of position - it’s all about fighting for the next man, having each other’s back and that’s what really propelled us to a really fantastic defensive start and three wins in three games.”