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City Takes Control of Homefield Advantage

By JJ Pavlick


New York City FC looks to secure home field for the first round of the playoffs, Orlando is hoping to play spoiler and close the distance in their playoff position. NYCFC currently sits in fourth place just one point behind the NY Red Bull, while Orlando sits in sixth place and 1 point behind Cincinnati, and 4 points behind NYCFC. Miami is tied in points with Orlando, but Orlando holds the tiebreaker advantage. Today’s game can drastically shake up the playoff picture going into the final week of season play. The game should have an electric atmosphere given its major importance in the standings for the playoffs.

The first half has been equally matched with both teams struggling to produce much in terms of real threats on goal. NYCFC’s best chance came on an offside chance at the goal in the 12th minute of play. Since then both teams have not troubled the keepers much. In the 44th minute, both teams have men down with injuries/cramping. The pitch is soaked from the rain coming through the area in spurts. I cannot recall seeing the pitch in such poor shape before during the season. The fourth official announces that 3 extra minutes will be added to the first half. The first half ends all tied up at 0-0, shots on goal are a 5 – 2 advantage for Orlando, Orlando has been called for 8 fouls and NYCFC 2 fouls. No cards have been issued in the low-paced game to this point. Both teams were feeling each other out in the first half. The play should pick up some in the second half.

The second half is underway, and no changes were made by either team to start. Orlando is coming out more aggressive this half. Throw in for Orlando, C. Araujo takes the throw, and finds E. Kara who flicks a pass onto F. Torres, who buried the pass into the lower right corner of the goal in the 47th minute, Orlando goes up 1-0. If Orlando can hold on, they will pressure NYCFC to get a win next week to keep their home-field advantage. In the 57th minute, the game is still 1-0 Orlando. The game’s been pretty chippy and the referee issued the first yellow card of the match to Orlando’s C. Araujo. In the 60th minute, Orlando’s Kara just misses on a rocket shot from 18 yards out. Substitutions made by NYCFC entering the match are Tinnerholm and Parks, and exiting is Gray and Acevedo.

City does nothing with their corner kick opportunity in the 62nd minute of play. Minutes later NYCFC earns a corner kick after Rodriguez was denied by Orlando’s keeper Galles. City makes Orlando pay on the restart, Callens comes up big blasting the rebound off Talles Magno’s shot into the back of the net. The City fans are on their feet and Red Bull Arena is rocking. The game is all tied up 1-1 in the 67th minute. A minute later Orlando makes a substitution bringing B. Michel on for Kara. A few minutes later a yellow card is shown to Morales of NYCFC. Play continues to be fast-paced and sloppy on both ends on the soaked pitch in New Jersey. The rain has been on and off all day, making playing conditions rough on both squads. In the 74th minute, Orlando makes two substitutions bringing on T. Akindele and K. Smith, exiting the match, are I. Angulo and Ruan. Fans continue to mock the Orlando keeper Galles who stalls well beyond the 6 seconds on every restart. In the 80th minute, Orlando striker Michel fires a shot toward the goal that appears to hit NYCFC’s Parks arm in the box. The referee says no and to play on. A minute later City brings the ball down the right flank where Moralez crosses the ball into the box to Pereira, he slides a perfect through ball to Talles Magno, he makes no mistakes and sends a laser into the back of the net to give NYCFC the lead 2-1. During the celebration, Magno removed his jersey, and the referee issued the mandatory yellow card to him. The arena is on its feet and rocking, Orlando’s manager is still visibly upset after a non-handling call in the box minutes before. The center explains to Orlando’s captain that VAR did look at the play and determined it was not a handling offense. In the 85th minute City makes two substitutions bringing on M. Pellegrini and Herber, and exiting the match are Gabriel Pereira and S. Rodriguez. Orlando decides to make a substitution as well and brings on J. Mulraney for C. Araujo. During the 89th minute of play, the referee issued a yellow card to Orlando’s Junior Urso. Before the restart can be taken NYCFC makes a substitution bringing on Thiago Andrade for Talles Magno, the fans at Red Bulls Arena give Talles Magno a standing ovation, and fans behind the team’s bench ask Magno what his shirt says that he exposed during his goal celebration. He gave them a quick peek lifting his jersey just a little showing the bottom half. The 4th official shows 3 extra minutes will be added, Orlando tried to make the most of them with a fast attack on the NYCFC goal. Sean Johnson stood strong to preserve the win for NYCFC.

With the win New York City FC secured Home-field advantage for at least the first round, the fans are on their feet chanting to their team in appreciation for the victory. Orlando has two games remaining and still has a slim hope of gaining the final home-field advantage slot if the NY Red Bull loses their match on October 9th and Orlando wins both their remaining matches on October 5th against Inter Miami and October 9th against Columbus. The final week of regular season soccer will be interesting, Inter Miami needs to win both their remaining matches to secure their final spot, or get help from others to keep Columbus out of the playoffs. So, buckle up and get ready for an exciting finish.

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