It is a scenario trained repeatedly during the week at the Etihad City Football Academy in Orangeburg, N.Y., and in this case, it started a 12-pass sequence that led to Anton Tinnerholm delivering the opening goal in an eventual 3-1 victory at Yankee Stadium Friday night.
City head coach Dome Torrent could not contain a wide smile and energetic applause after Tinnerholm side-footed his first-time finish.
“The first goal was fantastic,” Torrent said. “That is the New York City Football Club style now.”
A large part of Torrent’s jubilation rested with the manner of execution.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) July 27, 2019
“It’s a style we want to create here,” Torrent said. “At the end, the best option for you is when you see your players play with one clear style.”
The lynchpin in Torrent’s chosen style is a keeper who has the ability to ignite the attack — a facet of Johnson’s game that has received constant attention. His delicate, clipped ball to Alex Ring was a vital part of the buildup.
“Sean plays every single day much, much better and the reason why is he has the right coach [goalkeeper coach Rob Vartughian],” Torrent said. “He practices a lot this kind of action. Take time, look for your teammate and I’m very happy because the first goal is about that.”
“I don’t remember every pass but we started from Sean and we train every single day in a way at the training facility,” Tinnerholm said after his first goal of the season and fifth of his career. “That’s the goal that showed how we wanted to play.”
“My dream, if it is possible, is to have the control 80% [possession],” Torrent said. “In the training session we practice many, many times about that — control the game, play positional, two or three touches, play simple, when you play with your back to goal, set the ball with one touch. My feeling right now is we have the right players to play this style.”
That includes Ring who played a more advanced role in the midfield against SKC and assisted on the Tinnerholm finish.
“Yeah, it was a collective effort and it started from the keeper,” said Ring, who also assisted on Héber’s game-winner before scoring the third goal. “I think it just showed how we can play if we turn it on and the key is to turn it on every game. We made the right decisions and that’s how you win games especially in the final third.”
And while the reps in a training environment can prepare players for the moment, Tinnerholm says it is a much more difficult chore in the run of play on match day.
“You know it’s 11 opponents on the field, so it’s not that easy to score that kind of goal,” the second-year fullback said. “That’s how we want to play, but it’s not always that easy to score that kind of goal.”
While some scenarios will require taking a risk, building the attack to reach the back of the net is the preferred choice of the head coach — and he has a desire to leave a legacy with New York City when his time as the manager concludes.
“I’m not just trying to win the games and it’s important because you know what happens — the coach is sacked 100%,” Torrent said. “I want to play well and I want to go back to Barcelona — my home — and be very happy if I was able to create a style here when the people talk about New York City.”