Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored in the 64th minute. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO – New York City FC has a lifeline, albeit a thin one in the MLS Is Back Tournament.
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi made sure of that, scoring in the 64th minute to boost NYCFC to a 1-0 win over Inter Miami FC in the final group stage match for both teams at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
The result left NYCFC with a 1-2 record and three points, while needing some help from other teams in the tournament. The top two teams in each of the six groups will advance plus the four top third-place sides. Miami became the first Major League Soccer League to lose its first five games.
Tajouri-Shradi’s heroics were made possible just after one of four hydration breaks by Alexandru Mitrita, who lofted a perfectly placed lob over the defense. He took a touch with his left foot, ran into the area and powered a 12-yard shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles for City’s second goal of the competition.
It was City’s first shot on target.
That pass from Mitri and that first-touch from Isi… 🔥🎥 #MLSisBack
Posted by New York City FC on Monday, July 20, 2020
Video courtesy of NYCFC’s Facebook page
NYCFC started without two key attacking players sidelined – midfielder Maxi Moralez, who has been bothered by a quad injury and striker Heber, who suffered a hamstring injury in training on Sunday. Moralez did see the field, coming on for Mitrita in the 79th minute.
In the first MLS game between 0-4 teams in the league’s 25-year history, NYCFC lacked so much on both sides of the ball, especially going forward. City certainly missed its playmaker and leading goal-scorer from last season, but it should have shown more on the attack.
NYCFC had its first chance in the ninth minute when Valentín Castellanos booted a 26-yard attempt over the crossbar.
Only four minutes later, NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson was called on to make a save on a header by former Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo. Johnson also parried a Nicolás Figal header over the bar in the 35th minute.
Agudelo, a former Red Bull, was given his marching orders by the referee in the 90th minute for running into defender Anton Tinnerholm.
Due to the heat and humidity, there were two hydration breaks in each half. The first-half interruptions came in the 16th and 32nd minutes, the second-half water times came in the 64th and 76th minutes.
Former Massapequa High School and Georgetown University standout Dylan Nealis started on defense for Inter Miami and was replaced by Alvas Powell in the 78th minute.NOW