NYCFC eases past Orlando 4-2, keep pace with East leaders

NYCFC Bakrar
Sep 20, 2023; Queens, New York, USA; New York City FC forward Mounsef Bakrar (9) reacts after scoring a goal against the Orlando City SC during the first half at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Four goals from four different players, including two in first-half stoppage time, paced New York City Football Club (NYCFC) to a much-needed three points in a 4-2 victory over Orlando City on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. 

The star man for NYCFC, Santiago Rodriguez, opened the scoring with a laser from nearly 30 yards out that knuckled into the bottom corner of the net in the 15th minute. A lot of NYCFC’s success ran through the left side of their formation, specifically through Malachi Jones. Unfortunately, Jones left the game on a cart after suffering a collision with Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajhudar. Stajhudar was carted off the field with what appears to be a serious leg injury.

“It doesn’t look good,” head coach Nick Cushing said. “It looks serious.”

After a delay that added 13 plus minutes to stoppage time, NYCFC pivoted their attacks to the right side of the pitch without Jones. For their second goal, Rodriguez clipped a ball toward the baseline for right-back Tayvon Gray to chase. Gray out-hustled his marker to get to the ball before it went out of bounds, cutting it back to a wide-open Hannes Wolf who slid the ball into the bottom corner in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time.

NYCFC’s third goal of the half came on a similar move and in the 11th minute of stoppage time before the break, as center-back Thiago Martins split Orlando open with a through ball for Gray who slid it to substitute Agustin Ojeda for an easy tap-in. 

Down three to start the second half Orlando made a clear effort to send more long passes forward and more crosses into the box to challenge the NYCFC defense. This led to more chances for Orlando and NYCFC being forced to sit a little deeper. The pressure paid off for Orlando as Dagur Dan Thórhallsson scored a header in the 72nd minute to cut the lead to two. Things got tight late as a comedy of NYCFC defensive errors led to a second Orlando City goal from Duncan McGuire. 

But Monsef Bakrar sealed the win with a beautiful solo goal, cutting in on his right foot, nutmegging his defender, and curling the ball into the far corner for his second goal of the year.

It was a monumental goal for Bakrar, with Cushing noting after the game, “He’s taken advantage when the games are open…what we wanted from him he did.”

The game was on ice after that. On the up-and-down nature of the match, Cushing jested, “Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” 

The three points snap a three-game losing streak for NYCFC, putting them at 32 points — three points back of the New York Red Bulls for third place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand. 

For more on NYCFC, visit AMNY.com