Sean Johnson makes one of his first-half saves. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX — In a match dominated by stellar goalkeeping, New York City FC kicked off its fifth season at Yankee Stadium with a scoreless draw against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United on a cold and chilly Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Both keepers had their moments, keeping their teams in the match.
City’s Sean Johnson undoubtedly was the hosts’ star, denying United several times to allow NYCFC record a point in its second successive match before an announced crowd of 24,361. Bill Hamid was equally outstanding, saving his most memorable heroics for the 11th hour.
NYCFC (0-0-2) hasn’t won in its first two matches this season, having found the net but twice in what must be considered a disappointing start to head coach Dome Torrent’s first full Major League Soccer season in charge.
“It is not a good result for us when you play in Yankee Stadium,” Torrent said. “You have to win the game.”
Romanian international striker Alexandru Mitrita, billed as the successor to the legendary David Villa, has yet to make a true goal-scoring impact in his opening two matches after an encouraging preseason.
There really wasn’t much to write home about in the opening half except for a few saves by the opposing goalkeepers.
“The best players were the keepers,” Torrent said. “The keepers played amazing.”
Johnson frustrated United twice.
He swatted away Luciano Acosta’s shot off a Paul Arriola feed in the 11th minute. After an Alex Ring giveaway, Johnson managed to parry away Arriola’s attempt in the 24th minute.
As it turned out, Ring, a defensive midfielder, had the hosts’ best two scoring opportunities with a six-minute span in the opening 45 minutes.
First, he fired a long-range blast that was deflected out of bounds in the 31st minute before Hamid parried away his attempt in the 37th minute.
Johnson continued his stellar first-half performance into the second half, denying Ulises Segura on the left side after the United player beat Chanot in the 73rd minute.
After former NYCFC center back Frederic Brillant fouled second-half sub Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Hamid was called on to stop Mitrita’s free kick from outside the penalty area in the 78th minute to keep the game scoreless.
Hamid saved his best for last, denying Mitrita in the 88th minute and then Ring a minute later.