Mar 11, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy defender Rolf Feltscher (25) passes the ball past New York City midfielder Alexander Ring (8) during the second half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
New York City FC right back Anton Tinnerholm advanced deep into L.A. Galaxy territory for his first goal in Major League Soccer, and then left back Ben Sweat forayed into the opponent’s penalty box to set up David Villa’s first tally of 2018.
Both plays were a delightful development for head coach Patrick Vieira as the fullbacks’ contributions on the attacking side are a vital part of the plan in Vieira’s 4-3-3 system.
NYCFC defeated the Galaxy 2-1 in the club’s home opener Sunday at Yankee Stadium. An announced crowd of 26,221 watched the home team’s victory.
“I got space on the second post and the ball bounced to me and got a great hit,” said Tinnerholm, whose left-footed volley off a deflected cross opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. “I’m not used to using my left but today was the day. Not even in training have I scored a goal like that.”
Ten minutes later, Sweat made a late run into the area. His first attempt was saved by Galaxy keeper David Bingham, but the rebound fell at the feet of a player who has flourished in home openers at Yankee stadium. Villa, celebrating his 100th match with NYCFC, scored for the sixth time in four seasons on maiden matches in the Bronx.
“This is just the way we play the game,” Vieira said. “If you look at Ben on the other side it’s the same thing. We have a clear philosophy on how we play the game which is why it was important to bring the right player who can fit the system. Anton likes to go forward and the way we play suits him really well – the way it suits Ben, Mata (Ronald Matarrita) and Saad (Abdul-Salaam).”
On the defensive side, Tinnerholm teamed with centerback, Sebastien Ibeagha, to limit the opportunities of the dangerous Emmanuel Boateng in the left channel.
A week ago, Boateng was a menace in the Galaxy’s opening day triumph over Portland. Sunday, NYCFC neutralized him for a majority of the match, although the Ghanaian managed to squeeze past Tinnerholm to deliver a bending ball into the path of Jonathan dos Santos at the front post whose redirection past NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson left the Galaxy down by just one with a half hour to play.
Ibeagha, last year’s United Soccer League defender of the year with San Antonio, was given the starting assignment in place of suspended Maxime Chanot.
“He did fantastically well,” said Vieira, who has only seen the 6-foot-3 centerback in training since Feb. 27. “He looked calm, really composed. He’s the same way in training. I really enjoy working with him. I was really pleased for him. He was magnificent.”
Vieira was equally impressed with Tinnerholm, the 2017 Allsvenskan defender of the year.
“I think Anton is a real good professional,” Vieira said. “He’s played European football, he’s won titles with Malmo, he’s vocal and he’s a winner.”
And for the first time in franchise history, New York City FC won the opening two matches of the season.