NYCFC –Philadelphia Union Match Tied at 1 at Yankee Stadium
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 17- The second of NYCFC’s (1-2-3) home and home matches with the Philadelphia Union (1-3-3) was played on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium five days after the first of the set was played in Philadelphia.
Jim Curtin, the Union coach explained the emotions of the rare occurrence in the schedule, “It’s strange. It’s almost like a home and away game in a play-off series…There’s a real familiarity; the film sessions are a little shorter the second time around having just played them…this is the schedule that we have; it’s a unique one in that you play NYC back to back, but probably good to get them when [Frank] Lampard’s not here. You can look at that as a positive.”
Five days earlier Philadelphia was victorious, 2-1, on a goal scored in stoppage time. NYC’s experienced goalie Josh Saunders remarked, “Whenever you play back to back, there is some vengeance."
New York City’s coach Jason Kreis was critical after the last several games of his club’s slow start during the first half of play. This was not the case on Thursday in the Bronx.
Although neither club scored during the first 45 minutes, NYC was in possession of the ball for 61.5 percent of the period. Its passing accuracy was 76.3 percent and it won 63 percent of the duels.
Saunders commented on the first half’s play of his teammates, “We played very well in the first half.” Midfielder Mehdi Ballouchyconcurred with his teammate, “In the first half we pressed them.”
NYC started the second half strongly. Saunders explained, “We built on the good start in the first half.” The game’s first goal was scored in the 57th minute by Ballouchy, 10 days after his 32nd birthday, on a pass by Khiry Shelton. The crowd of 20,461 cheered excitedly in the hope they would see their team’s second victory of the season.
Ballouchy was named the player of the game, but the native of Morocco had a different opinion, “I thought AJ [Andrew Jacobson] was our best player tonight. He did everything. I was impressed.”
As the game neared its end, Philadelphia scored to tie the contest. In the 88th minute of the 90 minute match, C. J. Sapong scored on assists by Maurice Edu and Cristián Maidana.
Both the crowd in the stands and the players on the field for NYC were very disappointed by the late game action that resulted in a tie rather than a win. Saunders expressed his emotional reaction, “It feels like a loss, but we got a point [for the tie] if you want to take the positive. It’s too tough to take. I won’t sleep tonight. We need to stay positive and band together.”
NYCFC will remain at home for its next contest on Sunday, April 19 at 7 pm against the Portland Timber.
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