New York City FC (NYCFC) fell to Atlanta United 1-0 at home on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. The teams will meet this coming Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the second leg of the two-leg matchup.
On a chilly night in the Bronx, the action on the pitch was physical as the teams were collectively whistled for 22 fouls in the first 45.
Atlanta appeared to take the lead in the 21st minute when Miguel Almiron bounced a shot off the turf and over NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson. However, the goal was waved off after video review ruled there was an offside call prior to the goal.
But Atlanta would take the lead 16 minutes later. Johnson was able to swat away a close-in shot from Josef Martinez but the rebound trickled toward the post. There, Eric Remedi pounced on the loose ball to give the visitors the lead and an all-important road goal.
As New York City prepares to head south for the second leg, the team is viewing the match as a final.
“We win and we give ourselves a chance,” said Johnson. It’s one goal. If we score two, it’s gonna be a fight. So we just have to treat it like that and It’s gonna be an exciting game. I think we’ll just have to come prepared again. You know, we’d love a goal [today] but not conceding the second goal after conceding one of the set-pieces is important.”
NYCFC head coach Doménec Torrent feels there are several areas that need improvement before the next match.
“We didn’t play well because we didn’t have the connection between the central midfielders and the strikers,” he said. “We didn’t defend well, the set pieces especially. Every single corner, every single free kick, they could finish. We have to improve because, in a semifinal or a final, you have to be focused on that, in every single action.”
Torrent added that he felt his team was improved in the second half and created scoring chances.
“Our intention is to go to Atlanta to win the game because we need to win,” he added.