Source: New York City FC Press
New York City FC fell to Atlanta United 0 – 1 in the first leg of the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal. The return leg will be in Atlanta on Sunday, November 11th.
City’s first-ever Knockout Round win vs. Philadelphia sent them into their third-successive Eastern Conference semifinal with positive momentum but Atlanta United promised to offer a sterner examination of City’s playoff credentials.
Dome Torrent stuck with the same XI which bested the Union 3-1 in the Bronx on Wednesday.
The 180’ of soccer offered up in the Regular Season by these two teams were among the most riveting served up by MLS in 2018 but the first 45’ here was much more attritional than captivating, with 22 fouls and numerous stoppages seriously hampering the entertainment factor.
NYCFC were first to go close in the match on 16’ when Matarrita poked wide a presentable opportunity after neat work from Villa and Yangel Herrera in the build-up, while Maxime Chanot headed a chance wide from a corner shortly after.
Atlanta had the ball in the back of the net on 21’ when Miguel Almiron thumped a volley into the ground and over Sean Johnson, but VAR intervened and chalked off the goal for an offside earlier in the move.
That reprieve only lasted 16 minutes as Atlanta did take the lead on 37’ through Eric Remedi, who scrambled home an opportunity at the back post after Johnson had pawed away a Josef Martinez volley.
City had been inhibited up to this point but they had cause to rue an officiating decision themselves in first-half stoppage-time, when Herrera stabbed home at the back post from a Villa bicycle kick which was deemed dangerous play for the high boot.
Down at the break, a big 45’ was required to give NYC something to take down south with them next weekend and Jo Inge Berget was sent on early in the second period to try and find it.
The Norwegian went closest to finding the equalizer on 73’ with an outstretched leg almost turning Tajouri-Shradi’s cross-shot into the net but the ball would fall the wrong side of the far post.
Four minutes later, Jesus Medina was introduced as the second substitute by Torrent but there were no more chances served up by the Boys in Blue, and in fact it was Atlanta who went closest to scoring the game's second goal with a shot in stoppage-time which forced an incredible save from Johnson.
It was a frustrating night for the home faithful but NYC will go again next Sunday and look to overturn the deficit on the road.
NYCFC HEAD COACH DOMÈNEC TORRENT
On tonight’s match & looking ahead to the second leg in Atlanta…
“Today, it’s a bad result for us but I reminded my players, we need to imagine it’s a final. We need to win the next game. If you’re able to win the next game, you need to score at least one goal. 1-0? Extra time. If you’re able to win the game and score two goals, you are in the [Eastern Conference] final.”
On what needs to be adjusted heading to Atlanta…
“We need to win the game. I have to find the best solution and the best team to play better. I agree with who played the game in the second half. The second half we played much better, we can play side-to-side, we can play two against one. We played well the second half, they defend very well but we just need to win the game. We don’t need to win 2-0, 3-0, 4-1 - no, no - we need to win. If we win at least 1-0, it’s extra time, if you score 2, you are in the [Eastern Conference final], it’s as simple as that. We need to improve, absolutely. We need to improve for the next game because they have quality and the first half, we didn’t play well because we didn’t have the connection between the central midfielders and the strikers. We didn’t defend well, the set pieces especially. Every single corner, every single free kick, they could finish. We have to improve because in a semifinal or a final, you have to be focused on that, in every single action. But I am happy at the second half because I think we played much better - not in the first half and we have chances to win in Atlanta, why not? They have a good team but New York City as well. Our intention is to go to Atlanta to win the game because we need to win.”
On Maxime Chanot…
“Maxime, the last month, has played amazing, incredible. He has a special quality, he has a desire to win. It’s about the mentality. The mentality Chanot has shown in the last month is incredible. He was a leader for the defenders, the same with [Alex] Ring and Yangel [Herrera]”
ATLANTA UNITED FC HEAD COACH GERARDO MARTINO
On the game…
“That’s the way you have to play every game, regular season or the playoffs, it doesn’t matter. That’s the attitude. In the first half, I think we played some really good football. In the second half New York City had a little bit more of the possession.”
On having to play differently in the playoffs on the road...
"It’s just not because of the field, but it’s also because the circumstances of the game. So, in a playoff game of 90 minutes or two legs of 180 minutes, the team who has the most success is the team that commits the fewest errors. So maybe today we weren't as strict trying to play out of the back."
The message to the team coming into the playoffs...
"The message to the team was not to make costly mistakes because I know that if we can do that, I like our chances of winning. Last weekend I thought we made too many big mistakes."
New York City FC 0 – 1 Atlanta United FC
Sunday, November 4, 2018
Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Semifinal Leg 1
New York City FC: Sean Johnson; Ben Sweat (63’ Jo Inge Berget), Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm; Alexander Ring, Yangel Herrera, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (77’ Jesus Medina), Maxi Moralez, Ronald Matarrita; David Villa
SUBS UNUSED: Brad Stuver, Sebastien Ibeagha, Eloi Amagat, Ebenezer Ofori, Valentin Castellanos
Atlanta United FC: Brad Guzan; Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, Jeff Larentowicz, Franco Escobar; Julian Gressel, Eric Remedi, Darlington Nagbe; Miguel Almiron (46’ Hector Villalba) (85’ Ezequiel Barco) , Josef Martinez
SUBS UNUSED: Alex Kann, Miles Robinson, George Bello, Kevin Kratz, Romario Williams
37’ – ATL – Eric Remedi
7’ – ATL – Eric Remedi (YC – Unsporting Behavior)
10’– NYC – Maxi Moralez (YC – Unsporting Behavior)
41’ – NYC – Alexander Ring (YC – Unsporting Behavior)
48’ – ATL – Hector Villalba (YC – Unsporting Behavior)
78’ – ATL – Josef Martinez (YC – Unsporting Behavior)
Full Match Statistics: click here