New York City FC emerged as 3-1 victors from Leg 1 of their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series Tuesday night, beating Guatemala’s Comunicaciones FC before a partisan crowd at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut that favored the visitors.

The MLS Cup 2021 champions entered halftime with a 1-0 advantage behind Taty Castellanos’ third goal of the continental tournament, a near-post header off a cross from Santiago Rodriguez.

Comunicaciones, which eliminated the Colorado Rapids in the Round of 16, found a lifeline in the 60th minute when defender Manuel Gamboa bundled home an equalizer following a corner kick that the Cityzens failed to clear.

But hopes of a comeback were extinguished behind a two-goal flourish from NYCFC, starting with a stunning volley from midfield maestro Maxi Moralez in the 65th minute that restored a 2-1 lead. To cap the scoring, Rodriguez settled matters with a precise shot inside the near post in the 71st minute.

Goals

  • 29' – NYC – Taty Castellanos | WATCH
  • 60' – COM – Manuel Gamboa | WATCH
  • 65' – NYC – Maxi Moralez | WATCH
  • 71' – NYC – Santiago Rodriguez | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: Ronny Deila's team made quick work of Costa Rica's Santos de Guápiles in the Round of 16, and they're in a strong position to reach the semifinal stage after Leg 1. Though Comunicaciones got a valuable road goal and proved threatening, making Leg 2 on March 15 in Guatemala City far from a sure thing. The series winner faces Seattle Sounders FC or Liga MX's Club Leon in the next stage as the region's best chase a FIFA Club World Cup spot.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: When NYCFC went up 2-1, the dinked pass from Taty Castellanos was pretty enough. Then Maxi Moralez's left-footed volley added an exclamation mark of the highest order.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Taty Castellanos opened the scoring and twice turned provider as NYCFC staved off second-half momentum from Comunicaciones. The 2021 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi winner is in fine form.

Next Up

  • NYC: Saturday, March 12 vs. CF Montréal | 1 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada) | MLS regular season
  • COM: Saturday, March 12 at Nueva Concepción | 4 pm ET | Liga Nacional