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Monday, May 18, 2015

New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire: Match Recap 2-2 Tie with Exclusive Post-Game Player Interviews and Commentary by Peachy Deegan Our Coverage Sponsored by Hallak Cleaners the Couture Cleaner

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We can't believe how many people in New York have yet to see a phenomenal New York City Football Club game/match at Yankee Stadium, and now that we've been to FOUR, we can solidly verify it is among the most fun ways to spend a few hours this year in their inaugural season, which is an exciting idea in itself.

Excellence doesn't happen overnight.  It is a lengthy process that takes skill, dedication, hard work, precision and team chemistry.  In the end, it seemed like a quicker process this particular game as New York came back from a 2-0 deficit to capture the momentum and please the crowd with a tie, which is no easy feat.

We believe the team was a bit too cautious at the start and they need to capture an early goal to get their momentum going.  Be aggressive from the beginning!  Josh Saunders continues to be the most impressive, as this easily could have been a higher scoring game for the Chicago Fire-we did see breakaway opportunities-Saunders saved one at about the 26th minute.  Someone forgot to take the matches away from the New York Fire.  In the 14th minute New York surrendered a goal, however it was a skillful high shot that would have been impossible for Saunders to reach.  Cocis, the scorer for Chicago, was lethally accurate.  And there was another goal on a penalty kick later by Chicago's Larentowicz.

Cleaner passes that click like magnets among the NYCFC would add up to better results: we saw a terrific offensive play sequence around the 24th minute in the first half by New York.   The crowd erupted in the final minute of the first half in a goal by Mehdi Ballouchy on an assist from Villa!  Momentum became everything.

In the second half before a crowd of 23,315, Khiry Shelton scored his first MLS goal to tie it up!  A tie is much more valued when you come from behind than if you were leading, so our hats off to the great work by the NYCFC!

"Goals can come at really critical moments...right before halftime shifts the momentum and sends us into the locker room thinking we can do this," said Head Coach Jason Kreis during the post-game Q and A.   "I'm very hopeful that this is a sort of a landmark for our group so that they understand that they can get results if they're willing to whatever it takes and put in that kind of effort."

"More important than the point, I hope we gain some momentum from this game," added Kreis.  "The onus is on us.  It's our responsibility to earn and gain the respect of our fans.  We are building a club here for the next 100 years.  We believe that we're a better team than our points indicate right now."

"I think the guys showed a lot of passion and a lot of grit," Jeb Brovsky said.  Regis we tweeted you please come join the Notre Dame party at the next game.  "A lot of other teams in the same position could crumble easily and it could end up being a five-zero game.   We were smart-we knew we couldn't go 3-1 down in the second half and that was our number one goal at halftime-to keep it at 2-1 as long as possible.   We knew we'd get an opportunity and bury it.  And Khiry buried it!"

We asked Jeb what was said in the locker room during halftime.  The level of play in the second half was much better quality we thought.  "I think no one was frantic: we knew what we had to do.  It was very level-headed.  Coach came in and changed up the formation and told us what he expected out of everyone.  Stay solid in the back.  Don't go flying forward in the first ten minutes and open up gaps.  We didn't want it to be a track meet.  I think we executed."

So Peachy said New York is happy with what they did, but after all this is New York, so she said what do they need to win?  Jeb said: "We need another five minutes."

We next spoke to Patrick Mullins.  We asked him to talk about his recent goal against the New York Red Bulls.  Patrick said: "It was a good goal; as a sub you want to come in and impact the game.  Getting a goal definitely does that.  It gave us a chance to push out in the last ten minutes which was the biggest advantage of it."  We decided to also ask Patrick what it would take to get a win. "Making the right plays and putting the ball in the net at the right times and preventing them from scoring at key moments.  I think we know we have the heart; we just have to make the right plays at the key moments.  We don't want to be a reacting team: we want to be proactive."

We believe we've seen Patrick to be quite strong on what you would call in hockey: the forecheck.  You probably love hockey if you are reading Whom You Know as NHL Peachy is nearly at 300 posts in two years.  (check out the past 48 hours of posting for interview playoff coverage.) If you don't love hockey yet and want to know what forechecking is, it is checking an opponent in ice hockey in the opponent's defensive zone.  Comprendez-vous soccer enthusiasts?   We asked Patrick if he agreed with us: that he's quite laudable in what we're going to call the soccer forecheck.  "I think as a forward you want to come alive in the final third of the field and you want the ball at your feet.  I'm confident in my ability and I do want the ball at my feet so I think that's what you see."

Next, Josh Saunders was the recipient of our questions.  We said his play in the games we've seen (the last four) have been what's kept the team in the game.  What do you do to stay focused, follow through and do you relate to Henrik Lundqvist we asked?  (At the conclusion of this post we've included King Henrik's words to Whom You Know if you would like to see them-we have been told the last two videos are the most entertaining.)  And does Josh know Henrik?  "I do not know Henrik but I'd like to swap jerseys with him!  He's been inspiring for me-watching another keeper do so well for the Rangers-it's incredible.  But just the belief of this team and the belief to go forward to push through and win games and come from behind with ten men: I think this is a good momentum shift for us that shows a lot of character of the guys.  It gives fans something to cheer about to get a point: show them that we're never going to give up."

"I think the timing [of the goal today] might have been the best thing," commented Mehdi Ballouchy to journalists post-game.  "I think begin 2-0 down one man down for that long and to come back and tie it is incredible.  When we talk about an expansion team the uphill battle is the togetherness and fighting for each other.  Sometimes it takes a long time, and it didn't take a long time for this team.  I think we work our asses off for each other and some games play two or three positions.  David [Villa] took a beating.  He's used to the ball at his feet and to play a target man with two center backs and staying positive and leading us is incredible."  

We saw Mehdi score against Philadelphia April 16th, against Seattle on May 3rd and again in this game.  Until Khiry scored, Ballouchy had been the only person we'd seen score for New York in the four games we've seen at home.    So, we pointed out to him that he is the only one we saw score for awhile, and so we asked him what makes him the one able to score, what makes his shot more effective?  Mehdi modestly replied, "You have to keep coming to games.  It has nothing to do with my shot.  It's just luck that I'm there at the right moment.  Today, David's done everything.  He shot it, the keeper fumbled it back to me and I just finished.  It's 90% him, 10% me."

12 more days until the next game!  Get your tickets!

Of course, the NYCFC is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know in their inaugural year at Yankee Stadium.


The NYCFC tells Whom You Know:

Khiry Shelton couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first-ever goal in Major League Soccer.

The New York City FC rookie forward found the back of the net in the 91st minute as the Club rallied from a two-goal deficit while down a man to tie the Chicago Fire 2-2 in front of a raucous crowd of 23,315 on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

New York City FC improves to 1-6-4 (7 points), while the Fire are now 3-5-1 (10 points).

Less than one minute after the fourth official signaled there would be a minimum of five minutes of stoppage time, Shelton and New York City FC turned a potential fifth-straight defeat into a well-deserved draw.

Captain David Villa slipped the ball to his left to Shelton who aimed toward the far post and slotted it home past a diving Sean Johnson.

"I think it was a great goal; fantastic pass by David," Shelton said. "I couldn’t be any happier. After I scored it I didn’t know what to do; I just froze. I’m happy about the result and effort from everybody tonight. We were down a man and two goals and we were able to come back from that. That shows as a team we can go forward from this and get better. We have to keep pushing and keep working."

"I've been in Khiry’s shoes so I can say this with a lot of clarity and belief that that goal can put him to the next level," New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis said. "That’s what he needed. He needed a goal. He certainly didn’t create that goal, but he finished it. It’s going to do a lot for his confidence.

"The entire team was really willing to do anything tonight to get us that result. That’s incredibly important. It’s one of the more special moments in my coaching career to be honest." 

The evening began as a potential repeat performance when the two sides met in Chicago on April 24. New York City FC gave up the first goal in both matches and was limited to 10 men early in the first half. On Friday, defender RJ Allen was pickpocketed by David Accam, but his tackle from behind on the Designated Player in the box resulted in a penalty kick and ejection in the 26th minute.

Jeff Larentowicz buried home the kick to give the visitors a two-goal advantage one minute later.

Unlike the 1-0 defeat at Toyota Park less than a month ago, New York City FC found not just one answer, but two.

The first came on the cusp of halftime.

Villa showed lovely control on a ball over the top before rifling an attempt from outside of the box on net. Johnson made the save but it went into a dangerous area as Mehdi Ballouchy put home the rebound in the 45th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1 at halftime.

"I think the timing of it was great," said Ballouchy, who leads the team with three goals. "Being 2-0 down and scoring right before halftime is always awesome because then you can come in, get together, have a chat and get back out there and try to get that second goal." 

New York City FC came out the stronger side in the second half, pressuring Johnson and the Chicago back line.

One minute into the second half, Andrew Jacobson’s header went toward Patrick Mullins and the ball ended up at Villa’s feet, but Johnson latched onto it.

In the 66th, defender Jeb Brovsky rushed onto a ball near the touchline and served up a cross to Villa, who controlled the pass and fired a shot on target. Villa had another opportunity to equalize four minutes later, but was tackled by Lovel Palmer was he was about to shoot and Johnson was able to gobble up the ball.

Chicago appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute, but Shaun Maloney was called offsides.

The visitors broke the deadlock in the 14th with the Designated Player involved again. His cross from the left side was headed home by Razvan Cocis for a one-goal lead.

"We’re happy with 2-2," Ballouchy said. "Most of the time I wouldn’t say that, but being 2-0 down and a man down, it’s a great result."

New York City FC head west for a match against head coach Jason Kreis’ former team, Real Salt Lake, on Saturday, May 23. Kickoff from Rio Tinto Stadium is 10 p.m. EDT. The game will be broadcast on YES, WFAN and WADO.


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