NEW YORK – It was a dream start for New York City FC when Tommy McNamara struck for the quickest goal in the team’s brief history, sending the sellout crowd of 48,047 at Yankee Stadium into euphoria.
The dream start, though, turned into a nightmare finish for NYCFC, which conceded three goals after halftime to fall to the New York Red Bulls, 3-1, on Sunday.
“We came out well. It’s how you want to start games and obviously best case scenario happens, you score in the first 5-10 minutes,” McNamara said. “I think even after that and throughout moments in the first half we had a few other really good looks at goal. It was a good way to start the match. We need a better ending.”
Sunday's result snapped a four-match unbeaten streak for NYCFC, which came into this second match of a burgeoning rivalry having won three straight.
McNamara scored his second goal in an NYCFC uniform, and third ever in Major League Soccer, in the sixth minute, taking a Mix Diskerud cross that was flicked on by Andrew Jacobson off his chest and finishing inside the far post.
“Mix put a very good ball in and I was just standing back post, hoping AJ was going to flick it,” McNamara said. “He did and it just worked out really well.”
However, NYCFC coach Jason Kreis believed the goal actually came too soon for his team.
“For me, I think it comes down to a little bit of attitude and complacency and comfort, thinking the game is easier than it is,” Kreis said. “Sometimes they say in this game you can score too early. I think tonight we scored too easy. It came too easy and that gave our guys that extra comfort and complacency that we can’t have."
NYCFC had several chances to double their lead, but came up short. Mehdi Ballouchy directed a shot just wide of the far post in the eighth minute and Chris Wingert was unable to untangle a David Villa cross that landed between his legs in the 17th minute.
Wingert left the match with a right knee contusion in the 24th minute, affecting the cohesion of a backline that conceded just three goals during the four-match unbeaten streak.
Both teams emerged from the locker room after halftime and it was the Red Bulls who had all the answers. Sacha Kljestan dominated the middle of the field and assisted on two of the three second-half goals.
Momentum switched to the Red Bulls two minutes after halftime when Bradley Wright-Phillips leveled the match. Five minutes later, Chris Duvall gave the visitors a lead and NYCFC was forced to chase the game.
“I think they were a lot stronger than us today in the midfield,” defender Shay Facey said. “At times we were really open. They were winning second balls and really driving at the heart of our team and defense. We got tired and the best team won at the end of the day.”