Maxi Moralez did not maximize his best chance of the game and that cost NYC FC a goal. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Front Row Soccer Editor
BRONX — To say that New York City FC walked off the field at Yankee Stadium one frustrated side Saturday afternoon would have been a gross understatement.
The Blues experienced a horrible time finishing their chances and finishing off the Montreal Impact on the bitterly cold day.
After rolling over D.C. United in its home opener, 4-0, last week the 18,515 shivering fans who showed up at the ballpark probably thought City was going to continue its sharpshooting, but they left bitterly disappointed.
The same thing could be said about NYC FC, which had several golden opportunities to extend its lead before former Red Bulls striker Dominic Oduro connected for the equalizer in a 1-1 draw for the second year in a row between these two Eastern Conference rivals.
Here’s just a sampling of City’s locker room:
* “It’s very frustrating,” forward Rodney Wallace said. “I thought we dominated the game, we had a lot more shots on goal and defended well and at the end of the day these are games we want to win unfortunately the result did not go our way.”
* “Yeah, we’re really frustrated because we think we should have won this game, but this is a game of football,” head coach Patrick Vieira said. “If you don’t take your chances, you will most likely leave the door open for the patient team
* “Today was one of those days that we could have capitalized some chances but they stayed in the game for 90 minutes and we could have put the heads down earlier in the game but that’s the way soccer goes,” defender Ethan White said.
And on it went.
For one blustery afternoon, NYC FC could be considered MLS’s version of the charge of the light brigade. For most of the 90 minutes they shot to the left of Evan Bush, the right of the goalkeeper and sometimes over the crossbar.
Once, they managed to place the ball behind Bush, when Wallace cleaned up Alex Ring’s rebound and slotted the ball home from six yards to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
It could have been more, but this was not City’s day for target practice.
Team captain David Villa, who did not want to talk to the media afterwards, tried to play playmaker three minutes into the match as he worked hard on the left side to send a cross into Jack Harrison into the middle of the box. Harrison somehow booted a six-yard sitter over the net.
The hosts finally forced Bush to touch the ball in the 32nd and 35th minutes. First, Bush denied Wallace from the left side and three minutes later he had not trouble gathering in Alexander Callens’ 16-yard effort.
Wallace tried his best to give the Blues some breathing room during a 65th-minute fast break but midfielder Maxi Moralez, from the middle of the box, fired the Costa Rican’s left-wing feed wide right of the net.
“It happens. It’s part of the game,” Wallace said. “We were just unfortunate that we did not get that goal.”
City paid dearly for that miss only minutes later as Oduro struck. Oduro beat defender Ronald Matarrita, chested down a Patrice Bernier feed and sent it past goalkeeper Sean Johnson for a 1-1 deadlock in the 68th minute for his first goal of the season.
“When you look at the way we defend, it wasn’t good enough,” Vieira said. “We gave them a chance to score the goals. They didn’t create them by themselves.”
Pardon Vieira if he had had seen before because Oduro tallied in similar circumstances last April to give the Impact a 1-1 tie at the stadium.
“The game today was deja vu,” he said. “I remember the game last year was the same kind of scenario because we controlled the game. We were the better team at the end. The game today was the same.”
Tommy McNamara, who replaced Wallace in the 79th minute, almost lifted the home side to victory but his header off a free kick went over the crossbar two minutes into injury time to end one frustrating afternoon.
That left it to White to look for a silver lining on an otherwise gray day.
“There are teams that are still trying to figure themselves out,” he said. “I think we have a really good identity as a team. Obviously, there are certain things that need to be worked out. Today was one of those days that we could have capitalized some chances but they stayed in the game for 90 minutes and we could have put the heads down earlier in the game but that’s the way soccer goes.”