Heber celebrates a goal in the first half. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)
CINCINNATI — After spotting FC Cincinnati a 1-0 lead, New York City FC rolled off four consecutive goals en route to a 4-1 triumph at Nippert Stadium Saturday night.
Valentín Castellanos and Heber tallied two goals apiece to power City before a crowd of 27,273.
Third-place NYCFC (41 points) improved to 11-5-8 while hapless and 12th-place Cincy (18) fell to 5-18-3.
Even though City enjoyed a three-goal margin of victory, head coach Dome Torrent felt the team did not play the way he wants, especially after last week’s defeat at Atlanta United.
“Not exactly,” he said. “We are much better. Much better. But not exactly, because I remember we play much better one month ago, but we are in the right way. … It’s better than last game for sure, but that’s not exactly the best way to play. We played much better. I remember, for example, if you ask me about that, almost a perfect day was a game against D.C. in the cup. We short play short, when they are coming, you can play long after that. But ok, we are in the right way.”
Allan Cruz boosted Cincy into the lead at the half hour before NYCFC broke through on Castellanos’ first goal two minutes later off an assist by Maxi Moralez.
Three minute into first-half stoppage time, Heber found the net, off feed from Castellanos and Heber to grab a 2-1 advantage.
Castellanos struck again in the 71st minute before Heber rounded out the assault in the 89th minute.
“In the beginning of the first half, I played like a winger, where [Alexandru] Mitriță played last game, so in the second half we changed a little bit,” Heber said. “I played close to the 18-yard box. We played with three strikers, and I think this helped. I like to be close to the box.”
Heber raised his goal total to 12 in his first MLS season. It certainly has done wonders for his confidence.
“It is not only for me. It is for our team,” he said. “So, when we win this type of game, away 4-1, it is very good for us. Especially for strikers. We say in Brazil, we live for the goals, we live for the scores. So, when we score, everyone is happy. I am happy. I am very happy for Taty [Castellanos] also, because everyone is in good shape and we can help the team.”
Each team had a penalty kick saved.
Cincy had the first crack at goal after Roland Lamah was taken down in the penalty area. NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson, however, denied former Cosmos Emmanuel Ledesma to keep the match scoreless.
City had its chance in the 35th minute after Andrew Gutman was called for a handball in his penalty area. Goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton stopped Moralez on his attempt.