BRONX, N.Y. — New York City FC scored three times in the opening half hour en route to a season-high five goals during a 5-2 rout of FC Cincinnati in front of an announced crowd of 18,597 at Yankee Stadium Thursday night.
The win extends NYCFC’s MLS-best unbeaten streak to 10 matches, while FC Cincinnati (3-11-2, 11 points) dropped its fourth in a row and ninth in its last 10 games.
NYCFC (5-1-8, 23 points) needed just 11 minutes to take the lead when Maxi Moralez gathered a ball that deflected off Nick Hagglund’s foot, pulled it onto his left peg and sent a low cross in front of the goal that Alexendru Mitrita tapped in.
Six minutes later, Moralez played to Anton Tinnerholm, who had acres of space on the right side. The fullback sent a similar ball across the edge of the six-yard box that Heber latched onto and directed past Spencer Richey to double NYCFC’s advantage.
The Cityzens made it 3-0 just before the half-hour mark on a well-worked goal that saw Taty Casellanos head down to Heber, who played to an open Tinnerholm on the right. The Swede cut the ball back to Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, who took a settling touch before firing inside the near post from 17 yards out.
“I think if we play as a team we play simple, everyone gets to play out their strengths,” Alex Ring said. “Then it’s hard to defend against that because we have the individual qualities to score goals.”
After that moment, though, NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said his team took its foot off the gas and tried to be fancy rather than continue to work hard and tack on more goals before halftime.
“I’m happy just in the first 30 minutes,” he said. “We were able to create chances and score three goals, but after that we didn’t play well, too much rabonas. The game was not over and we have to respect the game.”
FC Cincinnati pulled a goal back in the 37th minute when Brad Stuver, starting in place of Sean Johnson, who was called up by the USMNT for the Gold Cup, misjudged an Emmanuel Ledesma free kick and Heber headed into his own net.
“There are things that happen in the game that you can’t simulate in training,” Stuver said. “So the first goal that we give up is off a free kick inside the 18, we set up, I misread it and it goes off of Heber and into the goal. That’s something that, as I get more acclimated to the game, I don’t make that same mistake.”
James Sands, who has been a rock defensively, was forced off with a right forearm injury, initially suffered in a collision with Stuver. He was replaced by Sebastien Ibeagha in the 58th minute. Torrent confirmed after the game that the young defender suffered a broken arm and will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks.
Jun 6, 2019; New York, NY, USA; A general view of the field prior to the game between New York City FC and FC Cincinnati at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The visitors were gifted a second own goal in the 76th minute when a saved Frankie Amaya shot caromed in off a sliding Ibeagha.
Five minutes later, Heber was denied his hat trick by a diving Richey.
Moralez, though, wouldn’t be denied in the 90th minute. He knocked in his third goal of the season after a quick combination with Castellanos, who raced to keep the ball alive by the near corner flag, and Tony Rocha. It was a goal appreciated by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who watched the match with NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna from a luxury suite.
Moralez was a threat throughout and finished with one goal and two assists.
“He’s one amazing and important player for us,” Torrent said. “He’s a fighter, he assists, he scores. I’m very happy for him and for our club because it’s very important to have these kind of players.”
Both teams take a break from MLS action and shift focus to the U.S. Open Cup with NYCFC hosting USL Championship side North Carolina FC at St. John’s University, while FC Cincinnati is home for Louisville City FC. Both matches are next Wednesday.