The game in 100 words (or less): Look, it’s really hard to play “good” soccer on the ping-pong-table-sized field at Yankee Stadium. Once you get past that irreversible fact, you can enjoy watching a NYCFC home game, because they’re typically pretty entertaining, in the way that watching two U-6 teams play herd-ball is entertaining and unpredictable. So much of these Yankee Stadium games are about the two or three quality chances you can create over 90 minutes, and can you put them away? NYCFC and the Union each put one away on Thursday, and they each deserved their 1-1 draw.
Three moments that mattered
28′ — Ballouchy misses a sitter, wasting Villa’s brilliance —David Villa’s backheel flick, in traffic, handed Mehdi Ballouchy an absolute sitter 12 yards from goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, but Ballouchy made a mess of his first-time shot and skied it over the crossbar.
57′ — Ballouchy opens the scoring with a moment of brilliance — Ballouchy made amends for his terrible miss earlier in the game with a bit of brilliance you’d have expected from Villa. Khiry Shelton picked out Ballouchy near the top of the penalty area, where the Moroccan midfielder took a clever first touch to fake out the defender, composed himself in plenty of space and curled a left-footed shot to the far post, past John McCarthy and into the back of the net.
86′ — Sapong scores his first for Philly — CJ Sapong must love getting the chance to poach knockdowns inside the penalty area, as opposed to being the one doing the knocking down and/or getting knocked down in aerial duels. Maurice Edu knocked Cristian Maidana’s long ball down, into the path of Sapong who had no one within a five-yard radius. The finish was acrobatic and clinical.
Man of the match: Maurice Edu — Not only did Mo provide the assist on Sapong’s equalizer, but his defensive work (7 clearances, 4 interceptions and 3 tackles won) seemed to always occur in the most critical situations, where if not for Edu’s intervention, NYCFC run away with this game.
New York City FC: Saunders, Wingert, Hernandez (Watson-Siriboe 46′), Williams, Jacobson, Ballouchy, Shelton, Grabavoy, Calle (Brovsky 78′), Villa (Poku 46′), Nemec
Goals: Ballouchy (57′)
Philadelphia Union: McCarthy, Gaddis, Vitoria, Edu, Williams, Wenger, Lahoud, Nogueira (Pfeffer 63′), Ayuk (Sapong 58′), Aristeguieta (Maidana 58′), Le Toux
Goals: Sapong (86′)