Ismael Tajouri-Shradi celebrates his first goal (USA TODAY Photo)
By Michael Lewis
Despite winning 1-0 at halftime Saturday night, New York City FC head coach Patrick Vieira wasn’t happy with his team’s performance at all.
In fact, he praised Orlando City SC, saying the visitors had played very well.
“We are quite lucky to be ahead at halftime, 1-0,” he said on the YES Network. “Tactically, we need to change something in the second half.”
Saying that, here are things to ponder from what turned into a 3-0 win over Orlando City at Yankee Stadium.
A tale of two strikers
It seemed Jo Inge Berget could not hit the broadside of a barn while Ismael Tajouri-Shradi can score and put a shot on target blind folded.
With Villa starting on the bench, Vieira decided to start Tajouri-Shradi and Berget as the twin strikers. Berget struggled in the first half as he could get a decent shot off. Tajouri-Shradi, on the other hand, continued his marksmanship by connecting on either side of the interval. He found the net in the 35th minute and added his second in the 79th minute for a 2-0 edge. You’ve got to give Tajouri-Shradi a lot of credit. He has placed eight shots on goal this season and has celebrated seven of them as goals. You can’t be more economical than that, can you?
David’s star shines brightly
David Villa doesn’t have to get on the scoresheet to influence game. After he came on in the second half, the City attack opened up because his presence forced double coverage. And when you have double coverage, someone, somewhere has to be open. Plus, Villa energized NYCFC players. Nice to have someone like Villa coming off the bench.
The Villa gambit
Before the game, Vieira wouldn’t say why he decided to rest Villa. Of course, it might have had something to do with the fact NYCFC has two big matches coming up this week. On Wednesday, they visit Red Bull Arena to play the Red Bulls in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (Hudson River Derby, more or less) and then host Atlanta United in a battle for Eastern Conference supremacy. Vieira is doing the best he can in making sure his star strikers’ batteries get recharged so he doesn’t burn out. We’ll see how much Villa is used this week.
Sacha still can’t take penalty kicks
No matter what uniform he wears, Orlando City midfielder Sacha Kljestan still can’t convert penalty kicks. He had a perfect opportunity to knot things after Alexander Callens took down an Orlando player in the penalty area. Up stepped Kljestan, who was one big horror show from the penalty spot during his tenure with the Red Bulls. His slammed his shot off the right post while City goalkeeper Sean Johnson dove in the opposite direction. City had a one-goal lead at the time and you have to wonder that if Sacha converted how the game would have changed.
Knock on wood again and again and again and again
And speaking of hitting the woodwork, both teams hit it twice, which in many ways, defined the game for the sides. We all know what happened to Kljestan’s effort, but then there was Josue Colman’s bending shot that hit the right post on the half hour. NYCFC’s woodwork smashes had a happier ending, or should I say finish, for the home side. With City leading in the 89th minute, Jesus Medina drilled a shot from atop the penalty area off the crossbar. The rebound came to Villa, whose bicycle kick also hit the bar. Maxi Moralez was in the right place at the right time to clean up and put it away.