Maxi Moralez

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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.

MLS: NYCFC beat Red Bulls on Maxi Moralez’s late goal

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The Domenec Torrent era has seen New York City FC hardly skip a beat, as Patrick Vieira’s former side has won two of their first three games under the new boss.

[ MORE: Beckham group unveils (another) new Miami stadium, park design ]

After knocking off Toronto FC on Torrent’s debut two weeks ago, NYCFC, who currently sit second in the Eastern Conference (six points back of leaders Atlanta United), blew a 2-1 lead away to Chicago Fire and lost 3-2 last weekend. On Sunday, though, in Torrent’s first New York derby clash with the New York Red Bulls, NYCFC got a late goal from Maxi Moralez to go a point clear of their local rivals and exact a small measure of revenge for the 4-0 thrashing they suffered earlier this year.

Not long before Moralez broke through for his seventh goal of the season (to go with eight assists), it was the Red Bulls who nearly went ahead, but Kaku’s volley flashed inches wide of Sean Johnson’s left-hand post. It was the best chance for the side under Chris Armas, who took over for the recently departed Jesse Marsch (RB Leipzig) on Friday.

The defeat snaps the Red Bulls’ three-game winning streak and drops them to third place in the East, now eight points back of Atlanta following the Five Stripes’ win on Saturday.

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.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC, HOU play to 1-1 draw… in Connecticut

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The game in 100 words (or less more): New York City FC entered the weekend having dropped just 12 points (two losses, three draws) at home all season. That, of course, is their record within the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, the third-year MLS club’s temporary home for the foreseeable future. In truth, it was a minor miracle NYCFC hadn’t been forced from their home in the Bronx before Saturday’s clash with the Houston Dynamo, which ended a 1-1 draw at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Conn. Attendance suffered, rightfully so. With the Yankees scheduled to play a make-up game Monday night, NYCFC were made to work out alternative stadium arrangements due to the amount of time required to convert Yankee Stadium into a baseball field once again. Anyway, Maxi Moralez and Mauro Manotas scored the goals, each inside the game’s opening 16 minutes. The point does very little for NYCFC (52 points), who remain 10 points off the pace of Eastern Conference- and Supporters’ Shield-leading Toronto FC, and just four points clear of third-place Chicago Fire; Houston (39) are buoyed a bit more, as they move ahead of Real Salt Lake for the Western Conference’s sixth and final playoff place (for the time being).

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Moralez rises up, heads NYCFC ahead — Chances are, when the shortest player on the field scores from a header, somebody missed their marking assignment.

16′ — Manotas beats Johnson off the quick FK — Chances are, when the opponent scores from a quick free kick, somebody fell asleep and wasn’t paying attention.

89′ — Deric protects the upper-90 to preserve a point — Jack Harrison probably thought he’d beaten Tyler Deric into the upper-90, but the Dynamo goalkeeper kept his side level with a stunning Save of the Week nominee.

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Man of the match: Tyler Deric

Goalscorers: Moralez (6′), Manotas (16′)

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 1-0 Sporting KC

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The match in 100 words (or less)A first half which saw a whopping two shots on target, both from NYCFC, certainly lived down to expectations with Alex Ring, David Villa, Yangel Herrera, Rodney Wallace, Matt Besler, and Graham Zusi all still returning from international duty or injured on it. The Yankee Stadium Crowd was saved from the nils when Jack Harrison got the job done to keep the East’s two seed safe.

Three moments that mattered

13′ — Melia, Espinoza deny Harrison’s header — Frederic Brillant’s odd pop of Andrea Pirlo’s corner was covered at the back post by a goalkeeper and a veteran teammate.

45′ — Melia parries Moralez’s rip — Might as well show the second shot on target from the miserly half at Yankee Stadium.

85′ — Harrison breaks through — Once denied, not twice with a great finish across Melia, as the ex-Manchester United Academy man gave NYCFC its deserved three points.