Unable to grab a win in its first six matches, New York City FC (NYCFC) now has back-to-back victories after defeating the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Yankee Stadium.
The 9th-minute goal by Valentin Castellanos was all the home side would need Wednesday night. Sean Johnson had a quiet game in goal for NYCFC as Chicago took only six shots, with none on goal.
Ironically, Castellanos was in the Starting XI replacing Alexandru Mitriță who was nursing an ankle injury suffered in Sunday’s 2-0 win over DC United. Castellanos was back in the lineup returning from concussion protocol.
On the goal, Héber broke down the right side and crossed the ball to Castellanos who found the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
“It’s a very positive thing especially if it’s to help the team and play for the fans,” the goalscorer said. “It’s important for me to do what I have to do to make sure I do things right. It was a very good attack. We did everything good and luckily it went in.”
Early in the second half, Chicago pushed to draw the match level. But an apparent goal by CJ Sapong was ruled offside.
New York City had a chance to seal the match early in stoppage time as Bastian Schweinsteiger was whistled for a foul on Maxi Moralez in the box. But, for the second consecutive match, Moralez failed to convert from the spot. This time, Fire keeper David Ousted made a diving save to his right to keep it a one-goal match.
The win Bronx gives NYCFC a modest two-game winning streak. With 11 points, the team also moved into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“I think the players are feeling more comfortable and I also feel comfortable as coach,” said Doménec Torrent, New York City’s head coach. “I think the prior matches before the winning streak went well. I think we have a system that the players enjoy. We have good quality players. It does not always mean that we will always use the system of play. It all depends on the opponents we are facing.”
Johnson was also pleased with the clean sheet.
“I think it’s obviously important to get a little bit of momentum,” he said. “Two wins in a row after a bit of a rough start to the season, we haven’t lost many games, but we haven’t won many. It’s good for the confidence of the group to be able to get wins together back to back and now having another game at home I think that stretch is important.”
New York City will close out a busy week when it welcomes Orlando City SC to Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is 1 p.m.