Ismael Tajouri-Shradi

AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

NYCFC waltzes past Philadelphia in playoff opener (video)

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Single-elimination games on the tiny pitch at Yankee Stadium is a difficult way to conclude a season, and the Philadelphia Union will be bitter about the end to its campaign following a 3-1 loss to New York City FC in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ MORE: MLS MVP’s 5 finalists ]

The stars were out for the East’s No. 3 seed as Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, David Villa, and Maxi Moralez all scored for NYCFC, who will meet No. 2 seed Atlanta United in the conference semifinals.

Cory Burke scored for Philadelphia who lost in the same building by the same score for the second time in four days.

Tajouri-Shradi’s goal was the pick of the bunch, hit with vigor to open the scoring.

Three things as NYCFC rolls Real Salt Lake

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It was a Bronx beatdown on the postage stamp pitch of Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, as New York City FC improved to 5W-1T on the season with a 4-0 win over Long Island native Mike Petke’s Real Salt Lake.

[ MORE: Buffon rips referee Oliver ]

NYCFC is good (and short weeks with long trips don’t help beat them)

David Villa and Alexander Ring were sitting on the subs bench, and it became clear within 20 minutes they could stay there if they wanted to rest up for the weekend’s match-up with Atlanta United (Villa did manage 32 minutes in returning from a calf injury, while Ring subbed on for the final 25).

That’s because NYCFC can beat you in so many ways, as evidenced by the quartet of goal scorers on display in the first half. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is as hot as any non-huge name in the league, Jo Inge Berget as hot as any gigantic beard in the league, and Maxi Moralez is that controlled tornado playmaker so dangerous on our shores. And Ebenezer Ofori, well, maybe you’ve read an article about him or something. Team = Deep.

But as good as Patrick Vieira’s men are this season, the schedule makers predestined this one a bit. Real Salt Lake played Saturday in Utah, then had to skip across the country for a match against rested NYCFC. And given the propensity of road teams to lose in MLS when all other things are equal, well, see ya.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is a real talent

Maybe file this under “Things We Are Relearning,” because the Swiss-born Libyan international is impressing at every turn. His goal Wednesday came off a garbage clearing attempt, but the 24-year-old now has four goals and an assist in four MLS starts since arriving from Austria Wien.

Maxi Moralez can win a sly penalty

Justen Glad was on the deck when he stabbed his foot at Moralez in a desperate attempt to get the ball off the Argentine atop the 18.

He missed, and barely caught a piece of leg. That didn’t stop Moralez from going down, and he finished his penalty kick past Nick Rimando (never an easy task).

Rough call, and a 2-0 hole at Yankee Stadium is a tough climb.