Angelo Rodriguez might be thanking the heavens and NYCFC for his two gift goals. (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)
MINNEAPOLIS — Domenec Torrent decided not to take three starters here for its Saturday night game against Minnesota United and New York City FC paid dearly for it.
Without forward and captain David Villa, playmaking midfielder Maxi Moralez and center back Maxime Chanot, the head coach’s City team dropped a rather lackluster 2-1 decision to 10-man United at TCF Bank Stadium Saturday night.
Angelo Rodriguez scored twice within a 16-minute span in the opening half, taking advantage of two defensive blunders by the visitors.
City played the final 14 minutes of the encounter with a man advantage after Collen Warner was awarded his second yellow card in the 76th minute.
The loss denied NYCFC (15-9-8, 53 points) an opportunity to clinch home-field advantage in the Eastern Conference knockout round. Minnesota (36), which entered the game in ninth place in the Western Conference, improved to 11-16-3. Columbus Crew SC, thanks to its scoreless draw with the Philadelphia Union, moved within five points of City with a game in hand.
Torrent decided to keep that influential trio at home. TCF Bank Stadium has artificial turf.
An unmarked Rodriguez lifted the hosts into the lead in the 16th minute as Miguel Ibarra, given loads of room by defender Ben Sweat lofted a right-wing cross to the far post. Rodriguez had no problems heading it home past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
In the 36th minute, Sweat gave Rodriguez the ball and eventually a goal on a silver platter with an horrible back pass to Johnson. Rodriguez raced onto the ball. Johnson, who had come out of the net to accept the pass, was left in no-man’s land as Rodriguez rounded him and slipped the ball into an unattended net for a 2-0 lead.
Only seconds after he came on for midfielder Alex Ring in the 73rd minute, Rodney Wallace placed City’s first shot on target, a bicycle kick that goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth handled easily.
Actually, Wallace was the best option on attack during his limited playing time as he scored City’s lone goal during a scramble in the box in front of Shuttleworth. Ismael Tajouri-Sharadi sent a ball in from the right side to Valentín Castellanos, who shot from point-blank range. Shuttleworth made the save, but left a rebound as the Costa Rican international slotted it home. The goal wasn’t awarded until it was given a thumb’s up by the Video Assistant Referee because there was a chance of an offside call.
Now NYCFC will take a three-week break before taking on D.C. United in the nation’s capital Sunday, Oct. 21. It is scheduled to host the Philadelphia Union in its final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium Sunday, Oct. 28 at 4:30 p.m.
If the Yankees manage to win their American League wildcard game and go deep in the playoffs and reach the World Series, that game could wind up being in danger of being held in the Bronx.