Alexandru Mitrita celebrates one of his goals with his thumb in his mouth. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. – Maxi who?
Despite playing without two of their most influential attacking players, New York City FC demonstrated a lot of grit and creativity, recording a 4-0 victory over FC Cincinnati Saturday night.
Alexandru Mitrita, who scored the fastest goal in club history only 30 seconds after the opening kickoff, paced the hosts with two goals at Red Bull Arena. Right back Anton Tinnerholm, who assisted on the first score, and Jesus Medina, each added a goal.
City, which had its six-game unbeaten streak snapped Wednesday night, hoped it had started another one as it begins its stretch run to the MLS season.
“I think it speaks for itself that they played well,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said. “Mitrita played really well in the No. 10 role. Isi [Ismael Tajouri-Shradi] worked good and was involved on the front end on the right side. We were more effective tonight than we have been in the other games.
“When you score early, it is easier to get more goals. The whole team performance was really good. We didn’t give them anything, keep on holding clean sheets, and then when we start scoring as well then that’s another step in the right direction.”
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who denied Kendall Waston on a diving header in the 79th minute, registered the clean sheet.
It was the first time NYCFC tallied four goals in a game since accomplishing the feat against Atlanta United Sept. 25, 2019.
4️⃣ The City
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) September 27, 2020
Tasting defeat when Toronto FC scored the lone goal in the 90th minute of the 1-0 home result Wednesday, NYCFC reversed things Saturday night by finding the net midway through the opening minute.
Playing the No. 10 role with Moralez sidelined for a month with a knee injury, Mitrita scored only seconds after the opening kickoff. Tinnerholm set up Mitrita, who split two defenders and powered an 18-yard shot into the lower left corner past goalkeeper Spencer Richey.
Mitrita celebrated the goal by putting his thumb into his mouth, quite possibly alluding to a new member of his family.
Tinnerholm got into the act in the 25th minute as he beat Richey from a difficult angle on the right side off a Ismael Tajouri-Shradi assist.
Mitrita wasn’t finished as he scored from off James Sands’ feed, the midfielder’s first MLS point.
NYCFC walked into the locker room with a 3-0 halftime advantage, easily their best 45 minutes of the season.
The hosts picked up where they left off in the second half. Five minutes in, Valentin Castellanos almost made it 4-0 as he rifled a shot off the left post.
NYCFC did eventually made it a four-goal advantage as Medina’s free kick deflected off the defensive wall and into the net in the 88th minute. It was Medina’s second goal of the season.
The free kick was set on Maikel van der Werff’s foul on Valentín Castellanos just outside the penalty area.
As if NYCFC needed yet another injury to another key player, team captain and midfielder Alex Ring exited the match with a leg injury, perhaps a knee ailment, after a tackle by Brandon Vázquez. Jesus Medina replaced him in the 39th minute.
If there was a crowd at the closed-door match, there is not doubt that Mitrita would have received a standing ovation by the City faithful when he was replaced by Tony Rocha in the 86th minute.