NEW YORK CITY – A shorthanded roster traveling cross-country on a short week against a red-hot team that has yet to lose this season spelled doom for Real Salt Lake as they were carved open by New York City FC 4-0 Wednesday night inside Yankee Stadium in New York City. RSL fell behind early and never was able to find their footing in the match.
The match started quickly with Blues strike Jo Inge Berget forcing Nick Rimando into a kick save just two minutes in off a through ball from Maximiliano Moralez. RSL saw a golden opportunity go begging in the fourth minute when Luis Silva got on the end of cross from Corey Baird but NYC goalkeeper Sean Johnson was able to push the shot wide with a sliding kick save.
That miss would prove costly for the Claret-and-Cobalt as they struggled to maintain significant possession throughout the rest of the first half. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi opened the scoring in the 12th minute when a deflected cross fell into his path and he rifled it home to the far post past a stunned Nick Rimando:
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) April 11, 2018
New York came inches form doubling their advantage 10 minutes later when Ronald Matarrita rocked the crossbar from distance. Moralez was clipped just inside the box by Justen Glad in the 29th minute and referee Mark Geiger determined it was enough for a penalty kick. After consulting his video assistant, Moralez stepped to the spot and he fired right down the middle to give The Blues the 2-0 advantage.
RSL continued to find themselves under siege throughout the rest of the half and a dagger came in the 41st minute when Berget split David Horst and Glad on a through ball from Jesus Medina and he took care of business, notching his first MLS goal in the process:
That slight touch from @JesusMediina8, though…
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) April 11, 2018
The second half started in similar fashion to the first for RSL when Corey Baird’s header was saved by Sean Johnson at point-blank range off a fine cross from Jefferson Savarino. Much like the first half, after the good look for the Claret-and-Cobalt, New York City FC settled in and began to put RSL under the gun and generating chances.
The Blues came close to adding a fourth goal in the 54th minute when Medina got loose in the box and Nick Rimando sacrificed his body to block the attempt. The rebound then was fired high by an on-rushing Moralez off an assist from Tajouri-Shradi.
19-year-old Pablo Ruiz entered the match for Real Salt Lake in the 58th minute making his MLS debut after signing with the club in the offseason, becoming the 148th player to make his debut for the club. He replaced Luis Silva while NYCFC brought on star forward David Villa in relief of Berget to get the Spanish sensation some field time as he works his way back into full fitness.
The rout was already on but The Pigeons added insult to injury in the 70th minute when Moralez’ found Ebenezer Ofori on the doorstep and Ofori slotted home to give the home side the 4-0 lead:
70. OFORI THE CITY
He gets his first for #NYCFC now!
🔵 4-0 👑 pic.twitter.com/BIJe61NH44
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) April 12, 2018
Chances kept coming as the match rolled on. Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo saw a chance to score moments after entering the match for RSL saved by Johnson and David Villa, with 398 career goals, fired just wide past a rooted Nick Rimando in the 78th minute. RSL saw yet another chance to pull a goal back saved in the 89th minute when Albert Rusnak sprung Savarino who put it across the face of goal but Saucedo’s header was cleared off the line. The match came to a merciful end after two minutes of stoppage time as the home side took all three points in the rout.
RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak was on-point and biting in his post-match comments to sideline reporter Samantha Yarock. You can listen to them here:
— Salt City FC (@saltcityfc) April 12, 2018
With their victory, NYCFC (5-0-1) remained unbeaten on the season while RSL (2-3-1) suffered their third defeat of the season in blowout fashion. The win was also The Blues first all-time against Salt Lake (3-1 advantage for RSL in the series). RSL now has 10 days off before they host Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium on April 21. Match time is set for 7:30 p.m. MDT.
Man of the Match
Pablo Ruiz – The 19-year-old Argentine-turned-Chilean international made his club debut for RSL but in his 32 minutes of action he proved that playing at the first team level isn’t too big for him. He was calm on the ball and had his lone shot on the night force Sean Johnson into a save. Much like Corey Baird earlier this season, Ruiz could be making it tough to keep him off the field if he continues to make the most of his opportunities.
Three Things To Note
1) When It rains, It Pours – RSL has been outscored 12-2 in their three defeats so far this season (5-1 vs. LAFC, 3-1 at Toronto & 4-0 tonight at NYCFC). Mike Petke has preached mentality to his club in the early going this season and this defeat is one that will send Petke back to the drawing board as he seeks to round his club into form and put together consistent performances.
2) Be Ready – Corey Baird and Pablo Ruiz have taken advantage of their opportunities given to them with the club struggling to find that aforementioned consistency. Players like Sunday Stephen, Sebastian Saucedo and Danilo Acosta etc. should be relishing the (anticipated) coming opportunities to prove they can be difference makers on the field and help right the ship in Salt Lake.
3) Make Use of Downtime – With 10 days between matches, Petke will be searching for answers as to where he can improve his side but the onus is on the players to make use of some extra practice and rest to get themselves right after a tough opening gauntlet of matches against some of the better clubs league-wide. Rivalry showdowns are always a highlight but the Claret-and-Cobalt need to get themselves re-energize and refocused over the next week and a half.