Jesús Medina’s redemption tour hit Philadelphia this weekend, leaving town with three points for New York City FC and more proof he can have an impact in Major League Soccer.
The winger scored early for the second consecutive match to set the tone for NYCFC, thriving in possession in a complete 2-0 victory over the Union on Saturday at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Medina, no longer playing with the pressure of a designated player contract, opened the scoring in the fifth minute, finishing from open play a week after NYCFC scored five off set pieces against FC Cincinnati. A red card for Union midfielder José Andrés Martínez in the 16th minute kept the momentum in NYCFC’s favor with the result sealed on a 65th-minute goal by Valentín Castellanos.
"He's obviously added goals this year for us, but it's the work rate for me," goalkeeper Sean Johnson said of Medina. "In games he's putting in the mileage, the aggression, re-pressing the ball over and over when we lose it in the attacking third. Those are the things that people don't necessarily talk about . . . those are the plays that win us games and the rest of the attacking talent takes care of itself."
NYCFC improved to 2-1-0 (6 points) with the victory over Philadelphia, who played a sluggish match and failed to get a shot on target after competing in the CONCACAF Champions League during midweek.
Medina was brilliant on the ball for the entire match, including in the build-up to his early goal. After a long run by Maxi Moralez into the final third, Medina received a pass on the right side near the box, laying it off to a streaking Anton Tinnerholm to the right. Medina continued his own run toward the six-yard box, and Tinnerhom returned the pass with his first touch, allowing Medina to redirect through the Philadelphia defense to open the scoring with his third goal of the season.
"I love Jesús, he is a fantastic player and works really hard for the team," said head coach Ronny Deila. "He works hard every day to improve. He's still only (24) years old. So it's just a start for his career. He gave us good touches, he played inside, he played outside, he played Anton through on the 1-0 goal. So, I'm happy with him and looking forward to the future."
NYCFC continued to frustrate Philadelphia in the minutes after the opener, with Martínez taking multiple swipes with his hand and elbow near the face of a falling Castellanos for his 16th-minute red card. A video review promptly confirmed the punishment for Martínez, and the Union rarely looked up for a 10-man challenge for the remainder of the match.
City probably should’ve added more before halftime and early in the second, with a handful of shots just missing target. Eventually, Castellanos found himself in perfect position to add the insurance score, capitalizing on a terrible attempt to clear the ball by Union defender Jakob Glesnes. Castellanos gathered the misplay and had just Philly keeper Andre Blake to beat, moving to his left and connecting with a rabona finish on his right foot, his third of the season, to make it 2-0 with 25 minutes to play.
New York City will take its two-game win streak next weekend to Orlando City SC, who eliminated NYCFC from last season’s MLS Cup Playoffs.