New York City FC vs Columbus Crew: Sean Johnson redeems himself

New York City FC (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
New York City FC (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Ronny Deila, Head Coach of New York City – (Photo by Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images) /

New York City FC gets a win as Sean Johnson finally redeems himself

On Monday evening, New York City FC hosted the Columbus Crew SC at the Red Bull Arena, their home away from home.  In the past, games between the two sides could go either way, since they were 4-4-4 in 12 matchups.  Earlier in the season, the Crew beat the Pigeons 1-0, and have since dominated the regular season with five wins and one tie.  However, this time around the game ended differently, with NYCFC getting the 1-0 win.

In the 59th minute, a poor giveaway from Aboubacar Keita in the final third allowed Héber to gain possession of the ball.  He then selflessly passed to Captain Alex Ring, who was able to put the ball in the back of the net.  The Pigeons were then able to hold on and put a stop to Columbus’ dominance in an entertaining matchup.

Despite the giveaway by the Crew, both squads played well and had numerous chances in the attacking third.  NYCFC edged their opposition slightly in possession, but each had three shots on target.  Truthfully, the game could have gone either way, but the Pigeons came out on top.

Here are three things we learned from this Eastern Conference battle.

Darlington Nagbe continues to remind us of brilliance for NYCFC

Not too long ago, Darlington Nagbe was a household name amongst Major League Soccer and United States fans alike.  Many thought he was part of the soccer future in the league and internationally.  But then, after a trade from the Portland Timbers to Atlanta United, that sudden hype died down quickly.

While his future with the national team remains up in the air, Monday night he continued to remind MLS fans why deserves recognition, which started with the Columbus Crew’s game last Thursday against the Chicago Fire.  Since leaving the Portland Timbers, he has been quiet on the goal-scoring side.  However, after a flick to himself, the 30-year-old scored off an incredible strike, which will probably be a high contender for goal of the year.

Regardless of no goals on Monday, Nagbe instead reminded fans why he is a significant asset to a team, and especially the Crew.  First, his presence in the midfield is a contribution in itself.  He is able to move the ball into the attacking third with his pace and ability and remains mostly cool under pressure.  Also, his skills and effort were blatantly on display in the first half, where Nagbe was evidently an important contributor to his team.

Frequently, he maneuvered around New York City FC players, leaving them behind and forcing the ball up the pitch.  His ability to dribble the ball and sidestep players highlight his individual talent.  Additionally, it tells his teammates they can pass to him, especially during more crowded situations, allowing the Crew to keep pushing forward.

In the end, Nagbe was quieter in the second half, but his brilliance was on display during this game.  MLS fans should not underestimate him, and he rightfully deserves to remain as a household MLS name.