Eric Remedi slips the ball into the net at the far right post in the first half. (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX, N.Y. — New York City FC suffered a devasting defeat at home in the MSL Cup Playoffs Sunday night.
By dropping a 1-0 decision to Atlanta United, City certainly has its work cut out for itself in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
NYCFC is down, but it is not out as it will try to right its ship next Sunday in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. United is 11-2-4 there, while NYFC, which played to a 2-2 draw there April 15, is 4-9-4 on the road this season.
Playing at home certainly did not help NYCFC, which failed to get a shot on goal against U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Much more was expected of City after eliminating the Philadelphia Union in Wednesday night’s wildcard match, 3-1, but Atlanta held steadfast on defense, being able to clog passing lanes and rendering the likes of David Villa and Maxi Moralez ineffecitve. When NYCFC managed to penetrate into the penalty area, there seems to be an Atlanta defender to repel the attack or block a shot before it got anywhere near Guzan.
Sunday night’s first half at a chilly Yankee Stadium was highlighted by the goal that wasn’t.
Midfielder Miguel Almiron put the ball over the head of goalkeeper Sean Johnson to climax a spectacular chip shot from the right side of the area after several pin-point passes after a corner kick in the 20th minute. Seconds later, however, referee Kevin Stott asked for a Video Assistant Referee review of the play. It was determined that Almiron was offside on the corner kick and that goal was taken off the scoreboard.
As it turned out, Atlanta did score an actual goal that counted off a corner kick in the 37th minute. The scoring sequence was originated by Julian Gressel’s corner kick from the left side to Josef Martinez, who powered a 12-yard volley at the net. Johnson knocked the shot away, leaving a rebound for Remedi, who tapped it from close range off the right post.