Heber kisses the head of Maxi Moralez after scoring the game-winner. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Alexandru Mitrita came off the bench to score the late winner for New York City FC, which defeated the 10-man Colorado Rapids, 2-1, at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday night.
In a match whose kickoff was delayed a half hour due to rain, foruth-place NYCFC (32 points) improved to 8-3-8 while the Rapids (20), in 11th place in the Western Conference fell to 5-11-5.
Mitrita broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, running onto a headed clearance by Lalas Abubakar, taking a touch and firing past substitute goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who came on for an injured Tim Howard late in the first half. Howard left with a strained right calf.
Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey claimed the goal was offside.
“I saw a long ball with a player offsides,” he said. “[Right back Abubakar] Lalas has to deal with a header and then the ball falls to somebody else and no offside is called.”
Against the run of play, the Rapids took the lead in the sixth minute on 16-year-old Sebastian Anderson’s first MLS goal. Ex-NYCFC midfielder Jonathan Lewis got a measure of revenge against his former club, winning a footrace with Sebastien Ibeagha to a through ball before playing across the face of goal where a sliding Anderson tapped into the net.
Anderson’s memorable night ended early as the Homegrown defender was sent off on a straight red card by referee Christopher Penso for a dangerous sliding tackle on Ronald Matarrita in the 33rd minute.
“He’s unlucky on the red card,” Casey said. “It’s a rash, very quick call on a 16-year-old that’s nicked a player. I thought he was very good. Unlucky that he gets sent off. Obviously, with a goal that’s great for him. A 16-year old scoring 20 minutes into the game is very impressive.”
Six minutes later, NYCFC leveled through Heber, who took a floated pass from Maxi Moralez off his chest at the edge of the six-yard box and slotted past Howard for his eighth goal of the season.
Heber had a golden chance for his second when Irwin parried the rebound of Keaton Parks shot into his path, but the Brazilian missed the target completely in the 73rd minute. But that bit of frustration was forgotten 10 minutes later when Mitrita secured the Cityzens’ first win here.