Alexander Callens struck for the game-winner in the 85th minute. (Adam Hunter/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX — Desperately needing a goal or two against a hot goalkeeper, New York City FC managed to find them from a pair of unlikely sources Saturday afternoon: both of their center backs.
Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens tallied in the final 10 minutes — the game-winner in the 85th minute — to lift City to a 2-1 comeback triumph over the Philadelphia Union at Yankee Stadium.
Until then, Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was superb, denying several NYCFC attempts.
Trailing 1-0 entering the final 10 minutes, NYCFC finally solved the Jamaican international on Maxi Moralez’s corner kick. The Colombian midfielder lofted his service into the area as Luxembourg international Chanot leaped between two defenders and headed in home from point-blank range for a 1-1 deadlock in the 79th minute.
Callens would have his moment in the sun five minutes later, scoring a rebound shot during a scramble in the box off another Moralez corner kick to allow NYCFC escape the embarrassment of leaving points on the table for the second consecutive home match in four days.
City twice lost the lead in a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution here Wednesday.
NYCFC played without forward Rodney Wallace, who is in Costa Rica prepping for a pair of World Cup qualifiers, and midfielder Yangel Herrera, who was preparing to face the United States along with his fellow Venezuelan Under-20 national team teammates for Sunday’s quarterfinal clash at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea.
The first half wasn’t much of anything to write home about as chances were few and far between.
In fact, Philly forced the issue in the early going, taking four corner kicks in the opening 45 minutes, but had nothing to show for it.
It took longer for City to get going. It’s best sequence in the half occurred in the 34th minute when Alex Ring, back from a yellow-card suspension from Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution, ripped a shot from atop the right side of the box off the right post. The rebound eventually came to David Villa in the penalty area and he fired a shot that goalkeeper Andre Blake produced a two-handed save on.
A minute into stoppage time, Blake denied Villa again, knocking away his close-range bullet of a shot.
Villa became the second NYCFC player to hit the woodwork when his drive from the penalty arc bounded off the crossbar in the 68th minute.
More than a minute later, the Union made sure of its shot as Fafa Picault finished off several nifty passes on the left side past keeper Sean Johnson for his seventh goal this season and a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute.
Blake continued to show he was the top 2016 MLS goalkeeper, denying Villa from close range and Ring from just outside the box within seconds in the 74th minute.