New York City FC manager Domenec Torrent didn’t feel like his team was playing with nine players toward the conclusion of Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
Despite Eloi Amagat and Ebenezer Ofori being sent off in each half, the fourth-year club looked like the better side in the second half, which Torrent credited to the influence of the blue-clad fans inside Yankee Stadium.
“Today we’re very happy with the result because you know what happens when you play against this team,” Torrent said. “They’re a tough team, Red Bulls. And especially in the second half, we played with 9 against 11. And I want to thank my players for their effort. I’m very proud of them.”
“In the end, we played 11v11 because we had two more in the stands,” Torrent said. “Our fans were amazing and I say it many times. When we have our fans, like today, like every single day, we can win the game even when we play with nine players.”
NYCFC needed an extra dose of inspiration even if it didn’t end up with nine men, as it entered Wednesday’s match with one win in its last four games/
“The other day we had a tough game in Philadelphia and in Toronto as well because they are a great team,” NYCFC forward David Villa said. “But the team after these games is doing well and they’re doing well again today. We are happy because we had injuries today and Matarrita [red card] and Alex [Callens, injury] which are very, very important for us in the defense, but they [the team] did well so we are happy.”
The absences of Alex Callens and Ronald Matarrita put NYCFC’s defense at a disadvantage from the start, and Amagat’s studs-up challenge late in the first half, forced a tactical switch out of a three-man back line to a 4-3-2.
“When you have three players in the middle and you can play football,” Torrent said. “You can play football well. When you decide to play one [forward], it is not a bad idea, but you only have one player up top and they can attack all the time.”
“That is the reason why I prefer to play (the 4-3-2),” Torrent said. “My experience in my last 10 to 15 years, it’s like that. It’s more open when you play with two strikers up. That is the reason why. But believe me, sometimes you decide to play this way and you lose the game 4-0. That is the game. It’s football.”
Seven minutes into the second half, David Villa produced an equalizer for NYCFC after a nice combination play with Jo Inge Berget.
The Spaniard’s 10th strike of the season handed NYCFC the inspiration necessary to face the challenges presented by the Red Bulls and the second red card to Ofori in the 73rd minute.
“The last couple of games we’ve been missing some of the traits we’ve had all season,” midfielder Alexander Ring said. “I told the guys, if we don’t bring it every match we’re going to get lost in this league, because the quality of the other teams is good enough to punish us. Even though we won, we weren’t that good against Toronto with a man advantage, and the Philadelphia game wasn’t our best… I think this was a great response from the team.”
Three points would’ve been the ideal outcome for NYCFC, but with expectations adjusted during the game, a draw sits fine with the club, especially because it re-ignited the spark it had earlier in the season as the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield and No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference heats up.