NEW YORK — No David Villa (at least to start the game), no problem for New York City FC as it prepares for one of its more important stretches of the 2018 season.
Deputy striker Ismael Tajouri-Shradi tallied in each half to open the scoring in NYCFC’s 3-0 victory over Orlando City SC at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night, continuing their dominant form in the Bronx while maintaining its position near the very top of the Eastern Conference. In its undefeated run at home, NYCFC has won six of its eight contests, earning 20 out of a possible 24 points on offer at The House That Ruth Built.
Midfielder Maxi Moralez scored late for NYCFC, who rested a few regulars to start the match, including striker David Villa, as the team gets set to play in the U.S. Open Cup against the New York Red Bulls in the Garden State this coming Wednesday before a home matchup against current Eastern Conference leader Atlanta United next Saturday. NYCFC is 0-3 all-time in U.S. Open Cup games, including an away loss to the Red Bulls in the fourth round of last season’s tournament.
NYCFC only put one shot on target in the first half, but it was taken expertly by Tajouri-Shradi, who received a through ball from defender Anton Tinnerholm in the box before cutting inside to his left and unleashing a curler that found its way into the upper left corner of the net in the 34th minute.
Orlando City had a a glorious opportunity to level the score at the beginning the second half, when forward Chris Mueller was tripped up on the edge of the box by NYCFC defender Alexander Callens, resulting in a penalty kick in the 48th minute. However, former Red Bull midfielder Sacha Kljestan put his spot kick off the foot of the right post before the ball rolled past the touch line for a NYCFC goal kick.
NYCFC doubled its lead in somewhat bizarre fashion, when a free kick by Tajouri-Shradi just inside of the corner flag sailed through traffic in the box before finding its way in the back of the net in the 79th minute for his second goal of the game. The contest was sealed with another unconventional goal, when both Jesus Medina and Villa, who came on as a substitute, both hit the crossbar with successive shots before Moralez followed with a tap-in for NYCFC’s third goal of the game in the 87th minute.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s game, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 24 pictures in total.