Jo Inge Berget (center) celebrates one of his goals with Alex Ring (left. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX, N.Y. — You only get one chance to make that first impression and Jo Inge Berget probably made a memorable one for Domènec Torrent Sunday.
After captain and striker David Villa left the match with a knee injury in the first half, the Norwegian forward took center stage at Yankee Stadium. Berget, who had but one goal in sometimes 938 frustrating minutes this MLS season, connected twice within a 17-minute span in the second half.
Those goals transformed a one-goal deficit into what ended in a 2-1 victory for the home side over Toronto FC as Torrent made a winning debut as NYCFC head coach. Torrent had guided only one practice session on Saturday prior to the match.
“Yeah, it felt good,” Berget said. “It’s one of those things where the ball bounced my way. It’s not every day where the ball ends up in the back of the net. It was one of those days where it bounced my way.”
The ball hasn’t bounced his way many times this season.
Berget, whose lone goal was scored more than two months ago in a 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake April 11, made sure he made a lasting impression on Torrent of what he could do, especially with Villa possibly missing one or two weeks with a right knee injury.
“I started playing a bit more behind him but when he had to go off I had to go to the No. 9 with Maxi [Moralez] behind me,” Berget said. “I felt like I was doing the same stuff I’ve been doing, it just went my way today and I scored twice. It feels better when I score a couple of goals instead of missing chances.”
His 51st-minute goal off his back-heel from close-range after a Jesus Medina feed equalized the match at 1-1.
In the 68th minute, Moralez slipped him a perfect through ball on the right side and the Norwegian slotted the ball home from seven yards for a 2-1 advantage.
Asked which goal felt better, Berget replied, “Nah, the second one felt better… That’s kind of what I’m about, I run and I make the run. Maxi has been giving me those balls has been giving me those balls all year long and this one I managed to get to the back of the net.”
And perhaps give the new coach a not-too-subtle reminder that he can rise to the occasion and score a few goals when needed.