On Wednesday, New York City FC played the second leg of the Round of 16 CONCACAF Champions League match against Santos de Guápiles F.C. The Pigeons already had a 2-0 advantage going into the fixture, and it was expected they would hold on and cruise into the quarterfinals.
This held true even though the team played their home match in Los Angeles rather than the New York area. Since no venue was available, and since the team plays the LA Galaxy this weekend, it was decided they would play at the Banc of California Stadium. Although not ideal, it worked out for the club, reducing travel time in a poor situation.
Despite being away from home, and with few fans, the home advantage was still there. The few fans who were there were loud, and NYCFC controlled the game from the start. In reality, it would have taken a lot for Santos to beat the reigning MLS Cup Champions, and they did not have a chance.
NYCFC beat the Costa Rican side 4-0, giving them a 6-0 triumph on aggregate. They controlled the fixture from the start, and just rode away into the California sunset, leaving Santos behind, and out of the Champions League.
New York City FC beat Santos de Guápiles F.C. 4-0, and 6-0 on aggregate
For most of the match, New York City FC controlled the possession, with about 61%. The team controlled the pace of play, and held Santos to a mere three shots. They were more composed and calm as compared to the first leg, and clear improvement was obvious.
Santos also looked slightly better this time around, but were nowhere near the level of play of NYCFC. The MLS side was in charge, not only with tactics and possession, but with goals too.
The first goal came off a corner kick in the 32nd minute. Maxi Moralez took the corner, and swept the ball into the box. Alfredo Morales was one of the players aiming to take his shot, and alas, he did. The American international headed the ball toward the right bottom corner of goal with fierce aggression, and put his side ahead. This was the defensive midfielder’s first goal with NYCFC, and it came at the perfect time.
However, it was not long after when the Pigeons scored the second goal. Once again, NYCFC had a corner kick, and Moralez put the ball into the box. Like many times in 2021, the ball fell to Valentín Castellanos. The Argentine attempted to score, but the ball was deflected off of a Santos player. Then, it ended up right at Maxime Chanot. With one touch, the center-back kicked the ball on the ground toward goal. Santos’ goalkeeper Kevin Ruíz attempted to get down and make the stop, but he was too late. For the first time since 2020, Chanot was on the scoresheet.
By the end of the first half, it was clear NYCFC would move on, and go into the quarterfinals. Santos struggled immensely to keep up with their opponents, and were limited with their chances in both halves. Meanwhile, the Pigeons had 20 shots throughout the entire game, with seven on target. The attacking effort is the overall reason why New York City FC is cruising into the quarterfinals.
Talles Magno shone in the 4-0 win
Yet, it was the second half where the win was signed and sealed, for Talles Magno put the final nail in the coffin with two more goals.
Magno’s first goal came in the 80th minute. Thiago had the ball and ran toward the end line near goal. He spotted his fellow Brazilian, and passed the ball with ease. The ball fell right to Magno, and he flicked the ball toward the center of goal, and fell as he took his chance. The ball still went into the back of the net, for the Santos defense was nonexistent.
Then, in the 86th minute, Magno got his brace after Santos turned the ball back over to NYCFC near the box. The Brazilian took a few touches before kicking the ball along the ground. Once again, the opposition’s defense was a cloud of smoke, and NYCFC went up 4-0.
It was not just the goals though. Throughout the game, Magno was a force to be reckoned with. Yes, he did lose the ball a little too often, especially in the first half, but his work effort made up for those mistakes. He continuously pressed when NYCFC was without the ball, and also moved into the defense when needed.
When Magno had the ball, he always tried to attack, or look for a teammate. He always moved forward, and had some excellent runs into the final third. Also, the forward was better with the ball at his feet, excluding some of those missed passes. His never-back-down mentality in the attack clearly paid off, for he did get his brace in the second half.
There is no doubt Magno will continue to progress as the season goes on. This year, he is going to be vital for New York City FC, and likely will become a star. And at this point, he is clearly deserving to start in the Major League Soccer season opener this weekend. Whether in MLS or the CCL, opposing teams need to look out, because Magno is here to play in 2022.