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NYCFC Put Out Fire In Queens

New York City Football Club were in Queens on Sunday as they hosted Chicago Fire at Citi Field. NYCFC took a first half lead from the penalty spot after Héber converted in the 23rd minute. A tight affair would see that goal as the decisive one – handing NYCFC a narrow 1-0 victory to stretch their unbeaten streak in MLS to seven games.

Talles Magno and Chicago Fire defender Jhon Espinoza 
Talles Magno 43 and Chicago Fire defender Jhon Espinoza 14 fight for a header during the second half at Citi Field Photo Brad Penner USA TODAY Sports

New York City Football Club were aiming for Sunday service as they welcomed Chicago Fire to Citi Field. The hosts were on a strong run of form, with Sunday’s game the chance to make it eight unbeaten in all competitions. Head Coach Ronny Deila made four changes to the starting XI that secured a 2-0 midweek win against D.C. United.

Returning to the side was Malte Amundsen, Maxi Moralez, Gabriel Pereira, and Héber. They replaced Chris Gloster, Keaton Parks, Talles Magno, and the suspended Taty Castellanos.

First Half

NYCFC started the game brightly and Héber earned his first look at goal after just four minutes via a Nicolás Acevedo cross – the Brazilian unable to make a strong connection with his head.

Moralez, operating in a deeper position alongside Alfredo Morales, was attempting to control the game with a mix of long and short passes. In the 9th minute, he found Héber in behind with a precise ball over the top. The striker was subsequently felled by Chicago’s goalkeeper, but the play was called back after Héber was flagged as offside.

NYCFC came close again ten minutes later with Moralez again the architect. His precise corner to the top of the box allowed Santiago Rodríguez to strike at goal, but his effort was cleared off the line. From the resulting corner, however, NYCFC gained a spot kick after Héber’s header hit Chicago defender Miguel Navarro on the arm – the penalty call confirmed after consultation with VAR.

The 30-year-old striker collected the ball and after settling himself fired it hard and low into the bottom right corner to open the scoring. As half-time neared a swift breakaway allowed Gabriel Pereira to play a slick 1-2 with Héber before firing a shot off that Gabriel Slonina parried well. Unfortunately, that would be Pereira’s last involvement due to injury and he was replaced by Talles Magno in the 44th minute.

The final chance of the first half would fall to Thiago Andrade after Moralez played him in one on one. The forward got off a fierce drive from the right but it went wide of the goal.

Second Half

Ronny Deila opted to make no changes at halftime and his side almost doubled their lead just four minutes in. The chance came after Morales won the ball high up the field and sought to quickly feed Talles Magno – his effort from the top of the box stinging the palms of Slonina.

Chicago were still proving a threat and they had a great chance to equalize through Jhon Durán in the 55th minute, but his effort from close range was blazed over. At the other end, Moralez was denied a fantastic goal from distance in the 64th minute when his effort crashed against the crossbar.

Deila would turn to his bench two minutes later as he made a triple substitution – Moralez leaving the field alongside Acevedo, and Amundsen for Keaton Parks, Tayvon Gray, and Chris Gloster.

In the 80th minute, NYCFC should have had a second when a fast breakaway put Rodríguez in on goal – the forward opting to shoot over squaring it to Héber at the back post.

The final change of the day for NYCFC came in the 87th minute as Andres Jasson replaced Thiago Andrade. Chicago continued to push for an equalizing goal and in injury time Carlos Terán was able to get off a shot from close range but it was well held by Sean Johnson. As the final seconds of injury time ebbed away Xherdan Shaqiri was found with a cross but his header didn’t trouble Johnson. That was the final notable act of the game and confirmed a 1-0 victory for NYCFC.

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Next Game

Next up for New York City Football Club is a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup clash against New England Revolution on Wednesday, May 25. Kickoff at Belson Stadium is 7:30PM EST (TV Schedule).

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