Rodney Wallace celebrates his game-winning goal against Atlanta United. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX. N.Y. — If you’re going to be a striker at any level in soccer, you’re going to bear the brunt of frustration and disappointment.
You’re going to miss scoring goals than celebrating them.
In other words, you’re going to have to have treat close calls, missed opportunities and saves like water off a duck’s back.
On Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, you could say Wallace was close to drowning from his near misses.
The 28-year-old forward came away swimmingly from a crazy six-second sequence in the opening minute of the second half in which three shots were cleared off the goal line in what was a deadlocked game.
No worries, said Wallace, who went on to connect for the game-winner and set up the insurance goal in a 3-1 triumph over Atlanta United.
“You just let it go, use it as a fuel and move forward and try to get another one,” he said after NYCFC won its third game in four attempts.
After helping creating David Villa’s goal to give City a 1-1 halftime tie, Wallace was involved in a rare and bizarre occurrence in front of the Atlanta goal a minute into the second half.
After all, how many times has anyone been denied on the goal line three times within six seconds of a close game?
Standing on the left side of the box, the 28-year-old Wallace fired a close-range shot that Tyrone Mears, standing on the goal line, headed out.
Seconds later, he tried again, but goalkeeper Alec Kann tipped the ball high into the air.
The ball went to Wallace, who volleyed it on net, but Leandro Gonzalez Pirez finally cleared it from the goalmouth.
Atlanta make three goal-line clearances in a row
How did this stay out? 😯Atlanta United FC with THREE goal-line clearances.
تم نشره بواسطة Major League Soccer (MLS) في 7 مايو، 2017
Video courtesy of MLS Facebook page
“Our objective was to go out and change things around and I think everyone responded accordingly,” Wallace said. “They did a great job of clearing the first one off the line. The rebound came to Maxi [Moralez] and I was able to follow up on a header. They cleared that. I had a volley and they cleared that off again. Credit to them. That set the tone for us to go out there and try to get the three points.”
Wallace led the charge. First, he touched an Ethan White feed, just in front of the net, for his third goal of the season on the hour.
Barely a minute later, the Costa Rican international set up Moralez, who beat Kann from six yards for a 3-1 advantage.
While he has filled the net for hundreds of goals for club and country, Villa had empathy for his fellow forward.
“This is difficult for every soccer player,” he said. “When all the things are good, everybody plays good. You need to keep going when things are not good and Rodney is the example today. He missed the first chances, he didn’t go down and he start to have confidence and he scored after.”
NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira definitely saw that as well.
“I think he showed how tough he is and how strong he is in his mind because he covered a lot of ground and he’s always at the right place to score goals or help the team,” he said. “His work ethic is fantastic.”