First Touch

NYCFC Kickstart Campaign In Chicago

NYCFC picked up their first point of the 2023 MLS season with a 1-1 draw at Chicago Fire. Gabriel Pereira netted City’s first goal of the new campaign, before Fabian Herbers leveled with 15 minutes to go at Soldier Field.

NYCFC Tie 1-1 With Chicago Fire To Earn First Point Of The Season

NYCFC entered the clash eager to kickstart the new campaign, following an opening day defeat to Nashville SC, while the Fire were stepping out for their season opener, having served a bye on Matchday One. The Boys in Blue sought to extend our impressive record against the Men in Red, having triumphed in 10 and drawn five of our previous 18 meetings, winning our last three on the bounce without conceding.

Match Report from NYCFC

Head Coach Nick Cushing made three changes to last Saturday’s trip to Tennessee. Celebrating his return to the Club following a loan spell with Rangers FC, James Sands was named in the starting XI in the heart of midfield, while Andres Jasson replaced Justin Haak, and Mitja Ilenič marked his full debut in place of the injured Tayvon Gray.

Fresh from signing his new contract, the returning Santiago Rodríguez was also introduced from the bench, alongside debutant and NYCFC II graduate Stephen Turnbull. Talles Magno led the line upfront in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Chicago Fire defender Mauricio Pineda fouls New York City midfielder Matias Pellegrini
Chicago Fire defender Mauricio Pineda 22 fouls New York City midfielder Matias Pellegrini 17 during the first half at Soldier Field Photos Mike Dinovo USA TODAY Sports

First Half

With both sides looking to strike first, there were early ventures forward at both ends. Chicago saw a penalty shout waved away when Chris Mueller went down, while City put the home goal under pressure with a series of dangerous set-pieces.

The Boys in Blue carved the game’s first real chance with a neat team move, as Matías Pellegrini whipped in a teasing delivery to the far post where Jasson slid in – only for his effort to bounce back off the post. The rebound fell to Keaton Parks to strike from range, but Chicago shot-stopper Spencer Richey batted the effort away.

Talles Magno then found Pereira with a fine through-ball, but the 21-year-old was forced wide and saw his shot deflected just wide of the near post. Heeding the warning, the Fire responded and perhaps should have broken the deadlock when Kacper Przybyłko latched onto a loose backpass, but fortunately for the visitors, the forward took an extra touch to cut inside before blazing over.

Luis Barraza was then called into action to tip over an awkward cross, and Rafael Czichos headed the resulting corner over the bar.
The deadlock was broken six minutes before the break with a moment of magic, as Pereira, who struck an outrageous rocket against Chicago last term, found the net again with another superb finish.

With City pressing high throughout, Braian Cufré had done well to win back possession in a promising area, finding Keaton Parks. The ball was played across to Pereira, and the Brazilian curled beautifully into the far corner, in off the post.Talles Magno came within inches of doubling the lead before half-time, stretching to reach Cufré’s cross, but City would head into the break with a one-goal advantage.

Second Half

Cushing’s side continued to threaten through the center after the restart, as Talles Magno clipped into Pellegrini’s path. Opting to try and round Richey, the Argentine took the ball a little wide and was thwarted by the Fire ‘keeper from a narrow angle. Parks then headed over.

Pushing for a route back into the contest, Chicago rallied late on. Gastón Giménez unleashed an ambitious volley, which bounced wide of the target, but the hosts would level a minute later, as Herbers smashed in with the ball only half-cleared after Kei Kamara had kept Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick alive.

As both sides chased a late winner, Maxime Chanot headed over from close range, while Chicago saw an effort ruled out for offside when Maren Haile-Selassie drilled in the rebound, after Barraza had done brilliantly to deny Czichos.

Though seven minutes of injury time were added, neither side could snatch victory, and the spoils were shared at Soldier Field.

Next Up

New York City Football Club find themselves hosting fellow Eastern Conference side Inter Miami CF for their home opener on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 pm ET at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York. See the TV schedule here

chicago fire players
New York City goalkeeper Luis Barraza 1 makes a save against Chicago Fire defender Rafael Czichos 5 during the first half at Soldier Field Photos Mike Dinovo USA TODAY Sports



Head Coach: Nick Cushing

[1] Luis Barraza

[3] Braian Cufré

[4] Maxime Chanot (C)

[13] Thiago Martins

[21] Andres Jasson (68’ – [8] Thiago)

[35] Mitja Ilenič (90’ – [34] Stephen Turnbull)

[6] James Sands (73’ – [80] Justin Haak)

[11] Gabriel Pereira

[17] Matías Pellegrini (73’ – [10] Santiago Rodríguez)

[55] Keaton Parks

[43] Talles Magno

Chicago Fire

Head Coach: Ezra Hendrickson

[18] Spencer Richey

[2] Arnaud Souquet

[4] Carlos Terán

[5] Rafael Czichos (C)

[6] Miguel Navarro (13’ – [22] Mauricio Pineda)

[8] Chris Mueller (64’ – [7] Maren Haile-Selassie)

[10] Xherdan Shaqiri

[17] Brian Gutierrez (64’ – [30] Gaston Gimenez)

[20] Jairo Torres (45’ – [21] Fabian Herbers)

[31] Federico Navarro

[11] Kacper Przybylko (46’ – [23] Kei Kamara)

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