A full strength New York City side traveled to Philadelphia to face an out of form Philadelphia Union in Week 6 of Major League Soccer. Philadelphia also had rookie goalkeeper McCarthy making his debut against formidable opposition in David Villa, Adam Nemec and Mix Diskerud.
The first-half was fairly even, although it was the home team that broke the deadlock. Initially it was Ayuk who was credited with the goal, but replay’s later concluded it was Zach Pfeffer who scored it. The confusion was down to a crowded box as it was a very scrappy goal.
Both teams were guilty of some stray passes, as possession changed feet a lot in a small space of time. This inability to pass properly clearly infuriated both coaches and was something they would have emphasised needed sorting out at the half-time break.
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Rookie goalkeeper McCarthy was under a lot of pressure to contain the New York offense and did so without much problems. Arguably the only faults he had, at least in the first-half, was his distribution. When he took goal-kicks, he was not very accurate. He was under pressure but needs to work on that key element of his game if he is to remain the starter.
The exciting rookie Khiry Shelton was brought on at the opening of the second-half in an attempt to add extra options for New York as they searched for a goal to equalise the game. His addition proved fruitful, as he combined with Nemec whose shot was initially blocked but he managed to set up David Villa for a simple pass into the net to grab the equaliser. It was a calm and composed finish from the veteran Spaniard, and the product of a good attacking team move.
The goal meant the Union were on the back foot as New York began to assert their dominance and grew in confidence. Villa pulled out some fancy tricks and Shelton made use of his devastating pace as the Union were forced to defend in numbers.
Things were made worse for Philadelphia when Sebastian Le Toux, arguably the best performer for the Union, badly cut his arm in a collision with the advertising board as he was muscled of the ball. The injury occured just after the hour mark and was quite graphic. Le Toux was unable to carry on, forcing the Union into a change. C.J Sapong was the man who replaced him. Within his first few touches of the ball he pulled a shot off that was saved by Josh Saunders.
Zach Pfeffer made a 60-yard run back to his own goal to deny David Villa another goal, earning a good round of applause from the crowd. Had he not been there, it looked certain that Villa would have finished it. McCarthy saved a David Villa free kick late on, to ensure he had a decent debut. The save set Union off on the counter-attack and a largely anonymous Andrew Wenger shot wide in what was arguably their best chance in the game.
Their luck and persistence finally showed as Wenger was given another chance just minutes later, and poked home the winner to a raucous reception from the home crowd at PPL Park. It was a much needed win for Philadelphia, who despite having less possession did the most with what they did have and deserved their win. Their first win of the season, to lift them off the bottom of the Eastern Conference and up to 8th.
New York will be disappointed to not have won the game, and they paid the price for not getting the ball forward enough, and when they did they simply did not do enough with it even though they showed great signs of attacking combinations.
FINAL SCORE: Philadelphia UNION (Pfeffer 27′, Wenger 90′) 2-1 New York CITY (Villa 55′)