Two first half goals from Ronald Matarrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi were enough to see the Boys in Blue wrap up the season on a high note with a 2-1 win over Philadelphia Union. In the regular season finale, NYCFC won an 18th match of 2019 to build momentum going into the playoffs.
New York City FC traveled to Talen Energy Stadium for the final regular-season game of Season 5 with the first seed already in hand.
Despite the fact that first place was already assured, Dome Torrent named a strong starting XI which initially showed seven changes from the heavily-rotated lineup which faced New England last time out.
A late change after the warm-ups saw Matarrita take Heber’s place in the lineup and the Costa Rican made his presence known early, opening the scoring on 7′. Ben Sweat, who was playing in Matarrita’s normal left back position, brought the ball forward and crossed it into the box to Taty Castellanos.
Taty lay the ball off beautifully forÂ Matarrita, who put the finishing touch on it for the first goal of the night and his first goal of the season. Castellanos was at it again in the 22nd minute of the match, when he was able to find Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in the outside corner of the box.
The Libyan cut inside from the wing and his ball into the box took a heavy deflection off a defender curled out of Andre Blake’s reach and into the net.
As expected, Philadelphia came on strong in their attempt to secure the second seed in the East but City’s defensive line was in form throughout the night and were able to keep them at bay with a combination of last ditch tackles, Sean Johnson saves and one inspired piece of defending from Anton Tinnerholm in front of his own goal.
The Boys in Blue held out until the closing minutes when Fabian scored a late penalty off an Ebenezer Ofori handball but it was New York City FC who secured all three points to go out on top.
Playoffs, here we come
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner; Jamiro Monteiro, Hari Medunjanin, Ilsinho (60 Marco Fabian), Brenden Aaronson (80 Matt Real), Fabrice-Jean Picault (75 Anthony Fontana); Andrew Wooten
SUBS UNUSED: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, Robert James Allen, Warren Creavalle
New York City FC: Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm (90 Sebastien Ibeagha), Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat; Alex Ring, Ebenezer Ofori, Maxi Moralez; Ronald Matarrita (82 James Sands), Valentin Castellanos, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (32 Jesus Medina)
SUBS UNUSED: Brad Stuver, Gary Mackay-Steven, Tony Rocha