New York City FC’s long-awaited first victory of the 2019 Major League Soccer campaign was earned in an unlikely spot on Sunday.
Domenec Torrent’s side went into Audi Field and shu tout D.C. United, the top team in the Eastern Conference.
In the 2-0 victory, NYCFC held the Wayne Rooney-led D.C. attack to three shots on target.
“Of course, everyone knows that we haven’t won, and it’s our first win so we’re happy,” NYCFC defender Anton Tinnerholm said. “I think if you look at our defense [tonight], that’s the best in four months since I arrived back here. We know they have a lot of quality players, especially in [Luciano] Acosta and [Wayne] Rooney. They didn’t score, and we scored. That’s pretty much it.”
Rooney put two of his three shots on target, but Acosta was held to a single shot that went off target, and he was held without a key pass.
The three-man back line of James Sands, Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens combined to make 14 tackles, 10 clearances and four interceptions in the defensive effort that silenced Acosta.
“I think today we showed the way [Dome] wants to play and finally we got a win…Now it’s an even more important game on Wednesday and I think we have to look at this game… and it shows the character of the players,” Tinnerholm said.
The clean sheet was the third of the season for NYCFC, but for the first time in 2019, the defensive shutout was backed up by goals from the attack.
New signings Alexandru Mitrita and Heber provided the goals for the NYCFC, with one coming in each half.
Heber’s goal was his first in MLS, and he also provided an assist on Mitrita’s 35th-minute goal.
“I am sure we signed the right player,” Torrent said. “If you want to play him in the spaces, it’s good news for New York City. I am very happy for him because he’s a good player and he’s a good guy.”
Heber’s chemistry with Mitrita and Maxi Moralez is going to be key moving forward as NYCFC attempt to move out of the Eastern Conference basement and into the top seven.
The Brazilian still needs to grow his attacking chemistry with the other pieces up top for NYCFC, but Sunday provided the club with a glimpse into how well he can fit in.
“It’s important to be confident because always the chances come,” Heber said. “When the chances come you need to be ready to score.”
“It’s important that he’s able to keep the ball upfront and it’s important for the team when we’re on the pressure and he keeps the ball moving forward,” Tinnerholm said. “I think of course it’s important for him on the team that he scores but if you look at the 90 minutes he played like 60 minutes but he did a real solid performance and especially the way he’s keeping the ball up front it’s important for the team.”
Now the task at hand for Torrent’s side is to extend the confidence gained from Sunday into results at home against Orlando City and Chicago in the next week.
“I am sure I have the confidence of my players because every day they show me how hard they train and how much confidence in my staff they have,” Torrent said.