With four 1-0 losses in its seven MLS games and a 153-minute scoreless drought entering Monday, last-place New York City FC was due for a bit of good luck.
Against first-place Columbus Crew SC, NYCFC finally got some.
City took advantage of a misplay in the back by Columbus to score in the 59th minute and kept the Crew at bay the rest of the way, winning 1-0 for just its second victory of the season.
"Today was a very, very good result and [creates] momentum for us, I think, because this is something we can build from," said NYCFC coach Ronny Deila.
Working the ball out from deep, Crew centerback Aboubacar Keita attempted to play to his partner, but shorted his pass. NYCFC striker Héber wasn’t far away, pouncing on the loose ball and drawing in the defense. Héber looked to his right to see captain Alex Ring streaking toward an open right side of the net and poked the ball his way. Ring stayed calm and buried the shot with his left foot to put City ahead for good.
NYCFC (2-5-0, 6 points) jumped to 10th in the Eastern Conference with the victory in its home opener, played at the club’s temporary home venue of Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, as Yankee Stadium remains unavailable for the first phase of MLS’ return to home markets.
"I thought it was a good balance performance, wasn't the most pretty one yet but it's a good first step and something to build on," said Ring.
It took a fortunate misplay for City to finally get one across, but the home team looked to be the better side for much of the match.
"Today was just an unbelievably good performance by the boys. This started actually after the game against Red Bull," Deila said. "We had a talk with some of the leaders in the group. They were very clear that we have to leave it back to basics, what what we are about with front foot attacking, pressing high up the pitch and play from behind and all these different things."
NYCFC played with much more aggression than recent games, giving Columbus midfielder Darlington Nagbe little room to create with physical play. After zero shots on goal in the first 45 minutes, the second half featured much crisper play in attack as Alexandru Mitrita and Jesús Medina seemed to gain confidence.
Columbus twice found the back of the net at Red Bull Arena, once in each half, but both goals were called back by assistant referees for offside violations.