LOS ANGELES, CA – After a demoralizing defeat last week, New York City FC had a tough opponent to bounce back against. Los Angeles FC seems to be the real deal, as City was lucky to come away with the point despite LA’s short rest. LAFC will be thankful that Sunday night was the last of their 3-match week. What an intense match!
The easy one here is the return of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. The Swiss-born Libyan international picked up right where he left off: making Patrick Vieira look good. Some may have been surprised to see Shradi on the bench – thinking him the starter if he was at all healthy. Vieira seems to have strong confidence in the abilities of Jo Inge Berget, however, and Berget did not disappoint. While Shradi netted the game-tying goal (in spectacular fashion), Berget did his part in drawing defenders, being a large presence on the forward line, and turning on the jets when he needed to. No matter who gets the start, Vieira will tell you it’s a good problem to have.
Also under “Confidence” is the more general sense that this team got a draw on the road after going down 2-1. After Carlos Vela‘s goal in the 66th minute, there was some negative body language from City. Fans watching at home wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that perhaps NYCFCs stretch of not being defeated twice in a row for more than two years could be over. But Vieira’s message before the game was clear: Don’t have any regrets after this match. There are of course at least two regrets, but neither was lack of effort.
Some indecision on the part of Sebastian Ibeagha led to LAFC’s first goal. Unsure of how he was going to clear the ball, Ibeagha seemed to feint with his outside leg and then quickly stab at the ball with his inside. The tap was too weak to clear it wide of the goal, but just enough to clear Sean Johnson. It’s a nitpicky criticism, as Ibeagha has been solid to this point in the season. He knows he screwed up, and it’s unlikely to happen again – but worth keeping an eye on.
Anton Tinnerholm came to the park with a warrior mentality Sunday night. Battered up something fierce, Tinnerholm was on one leg for an extended period, while the ball was in his area defending as best he could.
He’s lucky he didn’t seriously injure himself, but the attitude and effort are exactly what fans needed to see this weekend.