|Connor Lade (left) celebrates his goal with teammates. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Saturday was was a doubleheader day for the MLS in New York as both local soccer teams were home. The Red Bulls, led by a goal from Connor Lade, beat FC Cincinnati, 1-0, while New York City Football Club earned a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC.
NYCFC and Orlando City each now have 12 points. NYCFC has a record of 2-1-6, while Orlando is 3-3-3.
The Red Bulls and Cincinnati each now have 8 points. The Red Bulls improved to 2-4-2, while FCC is 2-5-2.
Red Bulls 1, FC Cincinnati 0:
The lone goal of this very competitive and intense match at Red Bull Arena came in the 38th minute. With the Red Bulls on the counter attack, Brian White found Daniel Royer a top of the 18-yard box.
Royer flicked the pass towards the left of the box for Connor Lade, who launched a rising rocket past FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton and under the crossbar for the eventual game winner.
Lade, in his 120th league game, scored his second career goal and first since July 13, 2016.
NYCFC Head Coach Chris Armas said of the hard worker Lade is, "Connor has been around this club for a long time, and he understands the way we play and he meets the demands of what we do. We ask a lot of him on a night like tonight. Right, playing in left -- we often put him in tough spots.
I think he makes it on because he understands. He competes. He's a real guy. He's a real player. He's a guy that the team and I can count on, and I think when we look around the field tonight, you saw a lot of that going on, and then of course he gets rewarded with a great goal with left foot. So thrilled for him. It's a big goal for the club."
White tallied his first career league assist, while Royer recorded his seventh career MLS assist.
Red Bulls Captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles needed just one save to record his first league shutout of 2019 and his 64th career MLS clean sheet. Robles moved into a tie with Pat Onstad for eighth all-time in league history with 64.
Armas said of earning this win and what it meant to the team, "Feels great. Feels great. Especially at home. To reward our fans on a really special night, Autism Awareness. There was good energy in the building. It was loud. You know, you see how hard the guys work every day, and again, on Autism Awareness Night, extra special for (Red Bulls General Manager) Marc (de Grandpre) and his wife, Kim, their daughter, Julia. So really special in so many ways to get three points."
Armas said of their gameplan for this one, "Yeah, we've been talking about making progress and we've been talking about, you know, what other teams are doing to us as of late, and then can we be better in all ways.
"So knowing them, how Cincinnati, what we thought would play, two blocks of four that we ultimately have to break down, that's exactly what we thought, and just having a little more width on the night with our wing guys we thought could help unlock, and it opened up in the first half. You saw a bunch of crosses, which they defended well.
"You know, looking for little ways to spark the team, a different formation, comfort with the center backs and the big guy in the back with long balls that teams might do to us helps us onset pieces. Amro has been training really well all year, held up really well against Orlando.
"And listen, that 3-3-3-1, 5-4-3-1, however you want to draw it up, whether we have the ball or not, it does put our guys in slightly different spaces and that could be refreshing."
NYCFC 1, Orlando City 1:
NYCFC's winning streak ended at two, as they earned a draw in this one at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Nani got Orlando City on the board first as he capitalized on a loose ball to steer it past NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson into the bottom corner of the net to make it 1-0 in the 18th minute.
It stayed that way into the second half. In the 51st minute, NYCFC's Maxi Moralez smashed the post with a well-hit shot that came back for Héber to put a final touch on to tie the game at 1.
NYCFC Head Coach Domènec Torrent said of gaining seven points (out of a possible nine) in the last three games, “I’m happy with the performance, we deserve more and that’s my opinion. Sometimes they deserve more and you are unable to win. Today we deserved more and get the 3 points, but it’s not so bad for us because we had three games in a row, in seven days.. If you compare right now to one month ago we play much better and it’s because they understand the way we want play.”
Torrent spoke of something he often does, measuring performance vs. getting results, “If you ask me about the performance for example, I’m happy with the performance of the players. The most important thing is how you’re feeling, if you’re feeling better than how you did one month ago, even when we play away or home for me we are [heading] the right way to play in the playoffs...I’m not worried about the results just for the results, I’m worried when we are not able to play well. That is when I’m worried.”
On Héber's performance and the form of the team, “I think Héber is the right player right now. I don’t want to talk about what happened 1 or 2 days ago. I’m happy with Heber and the new players, and the players who have played the last 2 or 3 games with us, which is good news for us because we have Taty playing in maybe his best form and Mitriță playing very well.”
Héber said of being involved in NYCFC’s goals of late and how he’s feeling, “I’m very happy to score the goal to give us this. To play good is more important. When you work hard, when you give everything on the pitch, everything comes. My teammates also helped me a lot, they were very welcoming and they helped me a lot to push myself as hard as I can and hopefully I’ll keep [playing] like that and continue scoring.”
On how he fits in the MLS, Héber said, “I have two friends here and they told me the style of the game and they showed it in Croatia also and I’ve watched many games. I feel they have a lot of quality. The league is very strong, all defenders are not the same and it has very good players. I think we can make great things here together.”