Heber celebrates midfielder Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s game-winning goal in front of D.C. goalkeeper Chris Seitz. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Talk about making up for lost time in a hurry.
After being eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in its first game in four consecutive years, New York City FC has won twice within two weeks to reach the 2019 quarterfinals.
City overcame a 1-0 deficit to record a 2-1 victory over D.C. United at Audi Field Wednesday night.
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi snapped a 1-1 deadlock in the 41st minute and NYCFC made sure the lead held up the remaining 49 minutes.
The team has been eliminated in its first Open Cup match in the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons, the first two occasions by the Cosmos, the last two by the Red Bulls.
“I’m very happy because when you are here, you have to try and win the game,” City head coach Dome Torrent said. “Not just for the result, but because I think the players played really well. It is not easy to play here at Audi Field because they are a good team and we knew that, but we played the last month with personality.”
NYCFC has been deploying three defenders, but switched to a back five in this encounter.
“We switched into a five back today which definitely eliminates some of the dribbling through the middle and all that type of stuff,” goalkeeper Brad Stuver said.
Added Torrent: “I’m very happy because we played again five in the back, when we don’t have the ball and the reason why is because they play wide all the time and I thought it was the best way to defend. Then we get the ball for attack and I am very happy for that.”
Wayne Rooney lifted United to the lead in the 32nd minute against the run of play. He took a long ball from Ulises Segura and beat Stuver.
Six minutes later City equalized as Alexandru Mitrita latched onto a long ball from Keaton Parks and slotted the ball past keeper Chris Seitz.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to find the game-winner. Tajouri-Shradi cut in from the right side and beat Seitz for a 2-1 edge in the 41st minute.
Stuver said the Open Cup is a priority with this NYCFC side.
“There are some teams that take Open Cup and use it as a time to get guys minutes they don’t normally play,” he said. “I think our mindset from the very beginning was, we have a deep team, we are going to rotate some guys but we’re also going to go out and win this because it is if you look at it on paper that you win [some] games and you win an Open Cup final and it’s a way for us to get into [the] Concacaf Champions League.”