|USA Today Sports.|
Just as they did against the Red Bulls and Montreal earlier in the week, New York City Football Club used a big second half to earn a 2-0 win over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.
NYCFC earned three clean sheets on the homestand, the first time they have done gotten three in a row since July 2016.
All three games were scoreless at halftime, and the week began with a 1-0 win over the Red Bulls last Sunday, followed by a 3-0 win on Wednesday over Montreal.
NYCFC moved into a tie with Atlanta for first place in the Eastern Conference at 12-4-4, with 40 points. Atlanta hosts Seattle on Sunday afternoon. NYCFC remained five points ahead of the Red Bulls (11-2-5), who beat Sporting KC, 3-2, on Saturday night.
NYCFC remains unbeaten at home, as they have won 10 and tied one at Yankee Stadium.
Domenec Torrent has now won four of his five games as NYCFC Head Coach, and this one came on his birthday.
Torrent said of the mentality and effort of NYCFC during this week with three games in seven days, “Wasn't easy, we played three games in a row in seven days. It’s difficult for us because we have players that are injured. I love this team because they have put effort into this week. They played with this intention in the second half because in the first half we were tired and we didn't play good, they played much better than us and they deserve much more especially in the first half. We changed in the second half, our intention was to cap the connection between (Federico) Higuain and (Will) Trapp because the first half we had more spaces in between the lines. it was the same with Chicago because they can play between the lines and our center backs need to set up. We changed a little in the second half, I Believe we played much better in the second half. We had some chances but they played much better than us in my opinion."
After a scoreless opening half, NYCFC's first big chance came in the 52nd minute when Maxi Moralez was in alone and Columbus' goalkeeper Zach Steffan made a big save. NYCFC retained possession, Jesus Medina got the ball at the right side of the net and fired one just past the left post.
Columbus' best chance came in the 67th minute when Pedro Santos came down the right side and Anton Tinnerholm deflected it off his leg over the net.
In the 79th minute, Jonathan Lewis fired one off the left post and it came back to him, he corralled it and sent a blistering pass across the box to Jesus Medina on the right side, and he buried it to make it 1-0.
This was Medina's fourth goal for NYCFC, and he said of it, “It was a funny goal. First Jonathan kicked it into the post, then he dribbles forward and leaves me in a really good position to score and open up the scoreboard.”
Torrent said of Jonathan Lewis, “I said last week I’m very happy with Jonathan, but don’t forget, Jonathan plays better when our team finds spaces. Jonathan is especially a player who plays against teams who play high. It’s very important for us because you know, after that he’s a fast player. I’m very happy for him because in every single training they improve a lot and the training sessions after the session, normally Jonathan trains more to improve the cross, to improve the one-by-one and that is the reason why I’m very happy for him.”
NYCFC put it away in the 90th when Tinnerholm got he ball at midfield, came down the right side, faked out a sliding Columbus defender and drilled it to make it 2-0 and send Yankee Stadium into a frenzy.
Tinnerholm netted his third goal of the season, and that's now three total for NYCFC.
“Yeah, perfect week," Tinnerholm said of NYCFC collecting nine points on this 3-game week and today’s match. "We felt tired in the first half today. We knew that we could do so much better than we did in the first half and I think Sean saved us in the first half, but we didn’t reach the level we can do, especially at home. We felt tired, but during halftime, [we said] we have to step up and at least make it a little bit more difficult for them. We played in between lines all the time and it was difficult to defend when they have time with the ball, they’re a really good team. So, we said at halftime we have to give ourselves a chance to win the game and we felt the high pressure. The second half was way better than it was in the first half and we scored the first goal as well. We stepped up in the second half."
NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson was this week as he earned three cleaning sheets, and he said of the character of this team, “I said it since the first week started that it’s a group with strong character with a big will to win. This week was really important for us and everybody recognized the importance, and we’ve really just focused on getting nine points in a week where we knew we had three home games and for us it was rest, recovery, repeat. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.”
Torrent said of the goalkeeper, “Sean was the best player in the first half for us, he was the best player absolutely because he was able to save our team. I repeat, they deserved more especially in the first half, we have a good goalkeeper. I’m very happy with him. He's an amazing person. For me it's very important when a player is like Sean. The last two games he played very well and I’m very happy for him.”