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NYCFC Lose To Minnesota Utd In Queens

NYCFC took on Minnesota United at Citi Field on Sunday night as the MLS Regular Season returned. A tight first half saw neither side able to break the deadlock. That changed in the second half when Jan Gregus saw a deflected effort loop over Luis Barraza to give Minnesota the lead. Despite a spirited effort to level the game NYCFC were unable to find an equalizer Minnesota added a second through Ménder Garcia in injury time to secure a win. 

Keaton Parks
Keaton Parks battles with Minnesota defender Will Trapp. Photo by Jonathan Jones - USA TODAY Sports

NYCFC 0 Minnesota Utd 2

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New York City FC welcomed Minnesota United to the World’s Borough on Sunday with both teams chasing a spot above the playoff line.  

Head Coach Nick Cushing handed an NYCFC & MLS debut to Birk Risa in the heart of the defence, while Maxi Moralez also made his first appearance since returning to the Five Boroughs earlier this month.   

First Half

Elsewhere, Monsef Bakrar made his MLS debut leading the line for the Boys in Blue, and it didn’t take long for the forward to combine with Moralez in the final third. The Argentine’s well-timed pass played Bakrar in on the right of the box, but his shot was blocked and went behind for a corner.  

As the half progressed the home side continued to build momentum. In the 16th minute, Santiago Rodríguez flashed a dangerous delivery across the Minnesota box from the right, but Bakrar could not provide a significant touch.  

The Algerian forward would be handed a much clearer look at goal five minutes later, with Moralez again the instigator. His clipped pass found Bakrar in behind, and after plucking the ball from the sky the Algerian attempted a toe-poked effort that only narrowly missed the target.  

At the other end, a rare foray forward for Minnesota resulted in Teemu Pukki firing off a shot from just inside the area, but he failed to keep his effort on target.  

NYCFC were quick to respond with a chance of their own after some fancy footwork in the penalty area by Rodríguez allowed him to shoot from the left side of the penalty area. While his effort was on target it lacked the power to cause Dayne St. Clair problems.  

As the halftime whistle neared, Minnesota earned themselves a corner kick after a cross was deflected behind. Emmanuel Reynoso was able to find Pukki free at the back post, but he was unable to make clean contact with the ball and it trickled harmlessly into the hands of Luis Barraza. 

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Players argue in the second half. Photo by Jonathan Jones - USA TODAY Sports

Second Half

The second half started with both teams trading possession early on. In the 53rd minute, Minnesota took the lead after substitute Jan Gregus’ shot took a deflection off James Sands and looped over Barraza. 

In the 61st minute, Cushing turned to his bench for the first time to make a double substitution as James Sands and Matías Pellegrini were replaced by a pair of debutants in Andrea Perea and Julián Fernández.  

Minutes later, Bakrar thought he had restored parity between the two sides after his run in behind was followed by a well-taken powerful finish. Unfortunately, the offside flag denied him a first MLS goal.  

NYCFC were continuing to push for an equalizer, and they came close in the 70th minute after a driving run from Rodríguez finished with him firing off a shot from the edge of the area. St. Clair was rooted to the spot as it whistled past the post.  

Mitja Ilenič would be the next fresh face to enter the field for NYCFC as he replaced Tayvon Gray in the 73rd minute.  

The pressure was building in front of Minnesota’s goal, and Fernandez almost had a debut goal after he pounced on the rebound from Rodríguez’s strike, but he couldn’t keep it on target from a narrow-angle.  

Cushing was keen to influence the game and made another change in attack by introducing Talles Magno in place of the industrious Bakrar. 

The Boys in Blue were proving relentless in their pursuit of an equalizer. A low-driven cross from Ilenič caused pinball in the box and when the ball settled it trickled into the hands of the goalkeeper.  

NYCFC thought they had a penalty when Fernández appeared to be brought down in the box and a penalty was award, however, after consultation with VAR the call was overturned.   

The Loons added a second in injury time through Ménder Garcia to secure all three points on the road. 

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Next Game

Saturday, August 26, 2023, 7:30pm ET – MLS Regular Season Matchday 28 v. FC Cincinnati | TQL Stadium; Cincinnati, OH|   

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