HARRISON, N.J. — New York City FC keeper Luis Barraza entered Wednesday’s match still looking for his first professional win with the club.
Before he could do that, the 24-year-old found his first assist.
Barraza made the key pass to set up Ismael Tajouri's goal, NYCFC's only tally in a 1-0 victory over CF Montreal on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.
With starting goalkeeper and captain Sean Johnson still away with the U.S. men’s national team during the Gold Cup, Barraza was between the posts for the third consecutive match. NYCFC suffered 2-1 losses in each of his first two appearances, including a defeat to Montreal in Orlando earlier this month.
"He did everything perfect today," NYCFC coach Ronny Deila said of his keeper. "Steady, confident, a really strong performance [after] what's happened last game, to come back and perform, it was very impressive."
Barraza came through on all chances he faced, but his biggest contribution came in the 29th minute. Barraza boomed a goal kick down the center of the field, splitting the centerbacks as Tajouri-Shradi tracked it into the box.
"The pass was really, really good. I didn’t expect that from him," Deila said. "I knew he had a good kick on the ball, but he could go in the NFL with this kick."
Tajouri-Shradi got a step on Montreal’s Zorhan Bassong, turning the defender the wrong way before sticking his left foot into the air to poke the bouncing ball over keeper James Pantemis with his only touch.
"The guys know where they have to be on goal kicks," Barraza said. "It's up to me to make to make the call and it's something that it's almost second nature for us now."
The chipped goal was Tajouri-Shradi’s fifth of the season, putting him second on the team behind Jesús Medina’s six scores.
NYCFC improved to 6-2-5 (20 points) with the victory, ending their two-game losing streak in the process ahead of a return to Yankee Stadium on Sunday against Orlando City SC.
With Barraza not being as sharp as NYCFC would’ve liked in his first two outings, the club seemed intent to press in the midfield to keep the action away from him, doing so successfully for large stretches of the game. The young keeper faced only one shot on target, a 34th minute Joaquin Torres shot he was able to parry.
NYCFC had plenty of chances to add a second. Medina put a short shot over the bar not long after Tajouri-Shradi’s goal. Maxi Moralez missed high and wide on the break not long after. Valentín Castellanos’ poor touch resulted in a missed chance ahead of the halftime break.
A free kick in the second half almost yielded the insurance score City was looking for, as Moralez quickly snuck a ball into the box off the stoppage, but neither Alexander Callens or Maxime Chanot could get a foot to it. NYCFC coach Ronny Deila pushed for the second, bringing on Keaton Parks and Thiago Andrade in the final 20 minutes. But the club already had all it could get. Fortunately, it’s all they needed.