Columbus forward Lucas Zelarayan (10) spins away from NYCFC midfielder Alexander Ring (8) during the first half. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It wasn’t exactly the game plan to start the season.
Only three minutes into New York City FC’s season-opener, center back Maxime Chanot saw red — a red card for denying a scoring opportunity. That put City at a man disadvantage for the remaining 87 minutes of what turned into a 1-0 loss to Columbus Crew SC at MAPRRE Stadium on Sunday.
The defeat spoiled the MLS debut of new head coach Ronny Deila, whose team already recorded back-to-back wins in the Concacaf Champions League.
“At three minutes or so, it kind of changes everything,” center back Alexander Callens said. “I don’t think we deserved to lose – maybe not win either – but I think a draw would have been good.”
Chanot was given his marching orders for clipping the heel of Columbus attacking midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Referee Ramy Touchan deemed it a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Chanot will miss next week’s match at 2019 MLS Cup finalist Toronto FC.
It turned out to be the third-fastest red card from the start of an MLS game.
NYCFC adjusted to a 4-4-1 formation and fought off attack after attack from Columbus until the second half, when Zelarayan drilled a left-footed shot into the net in the 56th minute.
“The team spirit and the discipline was very good,” Deila said. “Hard work as well. It was very tough, of course, if you have 10 men so early in the game. We stayed in the game to the end. In the end there we could have gotten something also. Of course, they had more chances than us, but you can’t expect [to have more]. That is not going to happen. So, I think that they were doing – they took out everything they had, and in the end, we were a little bit too short.”
Crew SC goalkeeper Eloy Room recorded a shutout.
Asked what he thought the team had to do before the Toronto encounter, Deila replied, “We just have to rest now and get our minds right. We have to bounce back as quick as possible, and the first opportunity for that is Toronto. I know me and all the boys want to get something out of that game.”