BRONX, N.Y. — Without an injured David Villa, New York City FC coach Domènec Torrent had a bright start in his debut for the club against the defending champions of Major League Soccer.
Before an announced crowd of 23,930 at Yankee Stadium, Jo Inge Berget scored twice after halftime and NYCFC recovered from a one goal deficit to defeat Toronto FC on Sunday, 2-1.
“It was not easy for me because it was a crazy week,” Torrent said.
Torrent was hired to replace Patrick Vieira 13 days ago, but he was prevented from conducting sessions with the team until he received his work visa. He flew into New York late Friday night and ran his first and only training session prior to the TFC match on Saturday.
“I thought that the players were ready,” Torrent said. “When I watched the intensity and the attitude they trained, they were ready to try to win the game.”
Villa appeared to land awkwardly trying to re-direct a head ball and was forced from the game in the 28th minute. Jesus Medina took his place and Berget moved from the wing into the central striker role.
Nine minutes later, Auro sent an innocuous ball into the right channel where Victor Vazquez managed a deft chip over the onrushing NYC goalkeeper Sean Johnson for the game’s opening goal.
Torrent’s first halftime discussion came with both tactical instruction plus a little psychological intervention.
“I said don’t give up, we are the New York City club,” Torrent said. “We changed a little bit. When our outside backs are up and the winger is inside, I prefer the winger outside and the outside back inside. And we have to play a little more quickly. We played much better.”
The initial response came six minutes into the second half when Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scissored his way loose on the left wing and sent a sizzling ball into the area where Medina got the first touch and Berget back-heeled past TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono to knot the match at 1-1.
In minute 68, Maxi Moralez delivered a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of Berget who slotted a right footed drive past Bono at the far post for the game winning strike.
It was Berget’s first career brace and he now has three goals for NYCFC.
Central defender Sebastian Ibeagha has a good view of both finishes at the back and explained that Berget deserves his rewards on Sunday.
“It’s huge for his confidence,” Ibeagha said. “He’s been doing well since he got here. He makes really good runs and works very hard off the ball and I think a lot of people miss that. I’m really happy for him.”
As for Villa, who entered the match with a team-leading eight goals, Torrent was uncertain about the exact nature of the injury – but expects the captain to miss some time.
“I spoke with him and he told me it’s not serious,” Torrent said. “But we are waiting for the doctor, but maybe he miss one or two games. I don’t know exactly what happened.”
While he later learns the extent of Villa’s damage, Torrent can relax for a moment and enjoy his first MLS victory.
“It is not easy to go to USA right now. I just arrive, yesterday was my first training session and it’s not easy,” he said. “At the end, everything is good.”