Ismael Tajouri: “I don’t score with my right foot but this was a good choice that I shot with my right foot.” (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX, N.Y. — In his first start for New York City FC, Ismael Tajouri certainly got off on the right foot, thanks to his right foot.
As it turned out, Tajouri’s stronger and preferred shooting foot is his left one, but when you have an opportunity to score a goal, particularly your first one, you react, you don’t necessarily think or worry.
Deputizing for the injured David Villa, Tajouri scored City’s first goal — and his first goal with the team — in its 2-0 win over Orlando City SC at Yankee Stadium Saturday.
“It was a great feeling,” he said. “First goal was a very, very good feeling, but it is more important that we take the three points at home. Three [wins] in a row is really important.”
So was scoring that goal. Up until then the game was rather lackluster with both sides taking few quality chances. Then Tajouri was in the right place at the right time, capitalizing on a defensive blunder by the Lions.
Orlando midfielder Yoshimar Yotun sent goalkeeper Joe Bendik a slow backpass from the left side. Bendik miskicked the ball and Tajouri intercepted his pass. He moved toward a little his right to find some space and drilled a right-footed shot home inside the penalty area for a 1-0 lead in the 62nd minute.
“I think this was a gift from the goalkeeper but the first time I think I didn’t shoot directly,” Tajouri said. “I was very calm and I took it with my right foot. I don’t score with my right foot but this was a good choice that I shot with my right foot.”
NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira recruited the 23-year-old Tajouri, a Swiss citizen who has Libyan parents, from Austria Wien.
“When you identify players that you want to bring to the football club you look at the quality and if they’re a good fit for the system you want to play,” Vieira said. “I think Ismael is a really good player one against one, and he’s really good in tight, small space. He’s really comfortable with the ball and he’s got pace. He’s really calm and composed and he’s a goal scorer. So this element goes really good with the way we want to play the game and I think today was good.”
Even if Tajouri was playing in the No. 9 position, which isn’t his usual position. But he took one for the team and wound up scoring one for the team.
Tajouri said that Vieira told him he was going to start at No. 9 “even he knows that isn’t my position. But I said I will do it. So, he said what I must do as No. 9 and I think I would do it well. After 10 minutes we changed the position because me and Jesus [Medina] and Rodney [Wallace] we can play anywhere in the front.”
Tajouri was given his advice about playing in Major League Soccer from his former Austria Wien teammate Daniel Royer, who currently plays for the Red Bulls, City’s big rival.
“I asked him about New York and I asked him also about MLS and he gave me some good information,” he said. “I think it was a good choice.”
In Austria they might have been teammates and friends. Now, they are rivals, separated by the Hudson River. But Tajouri doesn’t hold any malice against Royer.
“He helped me when I came here, so he’s a good guy, a good player,” he said. “When we play against Red Bull New York and I will see him again and one time say to him, thank you.”
Something that some NYCFC fans might be saying after Saturday’s game.