New York City FC proves a point with road draw

New York City FC in action at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports
New York City FC in action at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports /

It was the type of result for New York City FC that the club hopes can be a building block. Saturday’s 1-1 result at Orlando City wasn’t the beautiful game on display for New York City FC, but it showed a certain resilience and fight that is meaningful for a grinding MLS season.

After a first half of slugging and some tough sledding, New York City FC fell behind when Nani scored in the 52nd minute. But NYCFC didn’t cave in and fought back, Valentin Castellanos scoring from the penalty spot in the 77th minute to secure an important road result.

Despite being out-possessed (Orlando City had the ball for 57.1 percent of the game) and outshot (11:9), NYCFC held on against an improved Orlando side that looks like a potential playoff team once again.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game from us. I think we’ve played much better soccer, in the end you can’t win them all pretty,” midfielder James Sands said after the match.

“I think to come down to this stadium against a really good Orlando side—in the heat, we’re not used to that either—to come away with a point, and probably the better chances, it’s a huge statement about the will of this team. It’s going to be helpful come playoffs because I think it’s something we’ve lacked in the past years. This team is different and we can go a long way.”

New York City FC hasn’t lost in their last three matches and has taken seven points from this stretch. Playing without Maxi Moralez and Alfredo Morales, it was a good result on the road against a formidable team.

A side that, coincidentally, knocked NYCFC out of the playoffs last year.

“The boys go on and show themselves in that way, it just shows we’re coming [close to] what we’re talking about before the season—the togetherness, to be a team,” New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila said.

“Everyone is performing. Everyone is doing their job. They kept discipline. There was leadership on the pitch today. We go 1-0 down after a fantastic finish for Nani—they didn’t have any chances before that. When you shoot like that, it’s okay…you just have to accept it. We just kept on going and getting back in the game…That is what we talk about with togetherness and team spirit. We deserved to win today. We had four big chances, they had one. It wasn’t a chance almost—just a fantastic finish.”

Follow Kristian Dyer of ‘MLS Multiplex‘ on Twitter @KristianRDyer