Not even the great Andre Blake could stop Ismael Tajouri-Shradi from scoring NYCFC’s first goal of the match Wednesday night. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX, N.Y. — New York City FC has gotten its mojo back.
Just ask the Philadelphia Union, which was left on the side of the road for the second time in four days at Yankee Stadium.
NYCFC dominated the match from start to finish en route to a dominating 3-1 victory over in an Eastern Conference knockout-round match of the MLS Cup Playoffs at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night.
City, which dispatched Philly in the regular-season finale for both teams by the same score Sunday, will host Atlanta United in the conference semifinals here on Sunday, time TBD.
The team won back-to-back games for the first time in more than three months, since NYCFC enjoyed a four-game winning streak through July 26.
With Maxi Moralez pulling the strings with a hand in all three goals, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, David Villa and the Argentine midfielder found the net for the hosts, who had lost their momentum and confidence during the waning weeks of the season.
On Wednesday night, City looked quite confident and impressive.
NYCFC roared to a 2-0 halftime advantage, striking twice in the opening 26 minutes.
In the 10th minute, Moralez neatly threaded ball that Villa backhealed to Tajouri-Shradi. Tajouri-Shradi broke through two defenders and unleashed a bullet that even the great Andre Blake couldn’t stop.
Moralez and NYCFC were at it again in the 26th minute as the playmaking midfielder played Villa a square pass. The Spanish international then fired a roller into the lower left corner for a two-goal bulge.
Moralez put an exclamation point on the rout with a goal of his own in the 78th minute as he adroitly chipped Blake from 12 yards for a 3-0 lead.
Cory Burke pulled one back for Philly in the 83rd minute as Ilsinho danced through a motionless NYCFC defense on the right side of the box before feeding his open teammate in front of the net.