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NYCFC Lose MLS Season Opener In Charlotte

NYCFC started the season with defeat in North Carolina on Saturday. The hosts took the lead in the 8th minute through Adilson Malanda. Matt Freese denied Charlotte from the penalty spot in the second half, but on a night of few chances for either side it finished 1-0 to Charlotte FC. 

nycfc in action against Charlotte FC
Thiago Martins defends. Photo by Jim Dedmon - USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte FC 1 NYCFC 0

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NYCFC kicked off their tenth season in MLS with a road game against Charlotte FC. 

Head Coach Nick Cushing utilized a 4-2-3-1 formation with Matt Freese starting between the sticks. New signing Hannes Wolf was trusted to make his competitive bow in a number ten role behind Mounsef Bakrar.

First Half

The crowd in Queens City were keen to make their voices heard early on, and that drew a fast start from the home side that had them ahead inside the opening ten minutes. 

A corner for Charlotte was headed against the crossbar by Teixeira Tavares and on hand to pounce on the rebound was teammate Adilson Malanda. 


NYCFC were quick to summon a response after an exquisite through ball by Santiago Rodríguez put Wolf in on goal – a last ditch tackle by Andrew Privett denying the midfielder the chance to shoot. 


The Boys in Blue almost found their equalizer in the 26th minute after a well-worked set-piece. Wolf pulled the ball back to Birk Risa, and although he could not connect, it did deflect off a Charlotte player toward goal – a last ditch clearance denying NYCFC. 


Cushing’s side were growing into the game, and the 34th minute saw Bakrar peel wide right into space before flashing a shot across goal that required a save. 


As the half neared its conclusion NYCFC earned a free kick on the edge of Charlotte’s penalty box. Unfortunately, Rodríguez’s attempt hit the wall and was eventually cleared away. 

Second Half

NYCFC goalkeeper Matt Freese in action
NYCFC goalkeeper Matt Freese saves a penalty. Photo by Jim Dedmon - USA TODAY Sports

The second period saw no changes for either side, with NYCFC eager to restore parity. They had an early chance when Keaton Parks nodded a Mitja Ilenič cross into the path of Bakrar – the Algerian unable to keep his effort on target. 

In the 61st minute, Cushing turned to his bench to hand another new signing his debut. On came Jovan Mijatović in place of Julián Fernández. That change facilitated Wolf to move out wide with Mijatović sitting alongside Barker. 

Charlotte were awarded a penalty in the 64th minute after a video review adjudged that Kevin O’Toole had handled the ball during a coming together with Kerwin Vargas. The forward stepped up to take it, but he was denied brilliantly by Matt Freese. 

A second City would arrive for City in the 74th minute as Tayvon Gray checked in for Ilenič. NYCFC’s best chance of the game fell to Rodríguez in the 74th minute after brilliant work by Bakrar saw him dig out a cross. The Uruguayan took a touch to steady himself, but blazed his effort over from close range. 

Hannes Wolf had put in an admirable shift on his debut, which came to an end in the 85th minute. Replacing him was Talles Magno, who checked in for his first minutes of the season. He would get a look at goal in the 89th minute, but that would be the final notable chance for both sides, confirming a 1-0 victory for Charlotte. 

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Next Game

New York City Football Club jets over to encounter Western Conference side St. Louis CITY SC for the first time in the club history. The match will take place on Saturday, March 2 at 8:30pm ET at CITYPARK in St. Louis, Missouri. Broadcast: Apple TV MLS Season Pass | Radio:   

NYCFC forward Hannes Wolff shoots during the second half. Photo by Jim Dedmon - USA TODAY Sports
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