NEW YORK — New York City FC racked up three wins, and three clean sheets, against Eastern Conference opponents in a span of seven days at Yankee Stadium, capped by a 2-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC Saturday night that moved NYCFC to just one point behind Supporters’ Shield leadersAtlanta United, with a game in hand.
Best week ever?
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s response came in a New York minute.
“For sure, hands down,” Johnson said. “I think three wins in a row, especially at home, not conceding, limiting opportunities, everybody stepping up and playing really well in a short week where there’s not a lot of rest, the mentality of players had to be strong in a week like this.”
Making the feat even more impressive is that NYCFC defeated the New York Red Bulls, Montreal Impact and Crew SC without one available forward, as David Villa and Jo Inge Berget were sidelined with injuries. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi played 58 minutes against the Red Bulls but missed the final two games of the week with an injury of his own.
“It wasn’t easy to play three games in a row in seven days, especially because it’s difficult for us right now to do rotations because we have four players injured,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said after the win over Crew SC. “I love this team because they have done the last effort in this week. It’s not easy to play with this intensity in the second half because in the first half we were really tired and we didn’t play well.”
Torrent said Johnson was NYCFC’s best player in a first half where they struggled with heavy legs on Saturday. After not making one save in a 3-0 win over the Impact on Wednesday, Johnson was sharp against Crew SC. He made five saves, his best two coming early as he lunged up to deny Pedro Santos at the near post and then raced across the goal to punch away before colliding with Niko Hansen.
“I felt today in the first half we felt tired. We knew we could do so much better than we did in the first half and to be fair I think Sean saved us in the first half,” Anton Tinnerholm said of Johnson, whose eighth clean sheet is a new career high. “We didn’t reach the level we can do, especially at home.”
NYCFC dug deep after halftime and, according to Tinnerholm showed “character” to score twice in the final 10 minutes to secure maximum points from three important matches.
“Everybody was really tired, but we kept on fighting and we knew Columbus was one of the top teams in the league, but we still managed to win,” said Tinnerholm, who netted the 90th-minute insurance goal. “I think the best thing is we know we can do better than this, and we’re still sitting here with three points and a clean sheet.”
Johnson said the formula to endure the week was simple — “rest, recovery, repeat” — and of course it helped that all three games were at Yankee Stadium, where NYCFC are now 10-0-1 on the season, outscoring opponents 27-4.
“We shuffled things around, some guys played a little bit out of position, some places they’re not used to, but everyone stepped up and did their job,” Johnson said. “On the week, getting three wins, not conceding a goal and pushing ourselves up the standings with three home wins at this point of the year, that’s what you have to do if you want to achieve something at the end of the year.”
Tinnerholm called it a “perfect week,” which is followed by maybe the perfect news for NYCFC, who next play at Orlando City SC on July 26: Three days off.