Frederic Brilliant

Photo credit: @NYCFC

MLS Snapshot: 10-man NYCFC too much for McCarty-less Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less): New York City FC spent 78 minutes at a man disadvantage, fewer than 72 hours after drawing MLS-leading Toronto FC midweek, against the second-place Chicago Fire on Saturday. It the end, this week shall go down as the back-to-back which put to bed any lingering questions regarding NYCFC’s MLS Cup-contending credentials. Four points from two games against the league’s top-two teams — Patrick Vieira’s side (37 points) now sits a single point back of Chicago, two back of Toronto. As is typically the case, David Villa’s fingerprints were all over Saturday’s win at Yankee Stadium, as the reigning MVP scored the opening goal (in typically stunning fashion) before so nearly setting up one or two more as the back-and-forth, frantic second half wore on. Frederic Brilliant scored what turned out to be the winner just three minutes later, as David Accam canceled out Villa’s opener to make it three goals scored in seven minutes.

[ MORE: Clint Dempsey goes for USMNT goals record, back home ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Kappelhof slides through Herrera, no penalty given — Maybe VAR will be good?

12′ — Herrera sees yellow again, and he’s gone — Herrera’s first yellow was questionable, but there’s no doubt about the second, just four minutes later.

47′ — Villa smashes on the full volley for 1-0 — This is approximately the 197th time I’ve written the phrase, “David Villa, take a bow,” since Spain’s all-time leading scorer came to MLS.

50′ — Brilliant heads home in traffic for 2-0 — It takes guts to put your head into a sea of flying feet the Brilliant does here. Fortunately, his face is intact and the Frenchman was duly rewarded.

54′ — Accam hits and prays, makes it 2-1 — Don’t think; just hit it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Villa (47′), Brilliant (50′), Accam (54′)

NYCFC’s defensive lapses cost them three points vs. Toronto

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While the opening 45 minutes of Sunday’s match against Toronto FC seemingly belonged to New York City FC, the team’s inability to close out the half proved to be their downfall.

[ MORE: TFC battles back for 2-2 draw against NYCFC ]

After holding a 2-0 lead entering the final minute before the halftime interval, NYCFC conceded an agonizing goal prior to the referee’s whistle. Superstar Sebastian Giovinco played an accurate free kick into a dangerous area in the New York penalty box, before a sliding Damien Perquis pulled one back for the away side.

[ MORE: Latest MLS standings ]

NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira implemented a new 3-4-3 lineup against Toronto, with the goal of condensing the midfield in order to prevent Michael Bradley and Will Johnson a ton of time in possession.

After starting the first match of the season last week against the Chicago Fire, defender Ethan White was forced to the bench, with Jason Hernandez, Fredrick Brilliant and Ronald Matarrita beginning the match for Vieira.

The unit moved well together for large portions of the match, however, lack of communication and simple lapses in judgement cost them at key moments.

“When you’re winning 2-0 and you draw 2-2there’s a lot of frustration from our side,” Vieira said post-match. “We had to control the game a bit better but you have to give credit to Toronto for the way that they played. As a team, we will get better. After our first game against Chicago, I thought that with the way that this team works will get better and stronger. We were better today than we were against Chicago, and we will be better against Orlando because I’m pleased with the hard work of our players.”

Inside of half an hour gone, New York held its two-goal advantage thanks to sharp passing and a pair of David Villa finishes. Although the Spaniard’s second was highly contested by Toronto due to a questionable handling of the ball.

As the match wore on, Giovinco was afforded more time on the ball, thus creating separation between the NYCFC defense. There were times where Vieira’s backline looked disjointed, including on the buildup to the Atomic Ant’s equalizer with under a quarter-hour remaining when Frederic Brilliant failed to close down the Italian in a timely manner.

“We knew how good they were up front,” Vieira said. “They’re very mobile in the counterattack and it was very direct. When we analyze the game I’m quite pleased with the way that we stopped them and tried to find Giovinco behind our back three. Giovinco’s goal was a result of talent, and sometimes you have to accept the talent from the other team.”

[ MORE: MLS stats  Scores ]

While New York’s costly mistakes did force them to drop two points on Sunday, the team remains unbeaten through two games. It’s way too early to tell the side’s fate when it truly matters, but from what we’ve seen so far it’s safe to say that Vieira has brought a new attitude that will provide long-term success at Yankee Stadium.

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