FRISCO, Texas — If it’s not about who gets the most chances but instead who puts them away, that’s exactly what Real Salt Lake relied on to open their 2019 Generation Adidas Cup campaign. After playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation, RSL defeated New York City FC 4-3 in a penalty shootout to earn an additional point in Group C of the Champions Division.
Despite the eventual winners having the best looks at goal in the first half –– including an on-frame headed effort from US youth international fullback Zack Farnsworth that was tipped over the bar by NYCFC goalkeeper Ethan Wood –– it was the Bronx-based side that went into halftime with the lead thanks to a converted penalty by midfielder Joe Sucheki in first half stoppage time.
In a very hotly-contested second half, where neither team dominated, RSL got their chance to level things with just five minutes left in regulation when Bode Davis was taken down in the box. Winger Christopher Garcia, who spent the game as a menacing presence on the flanks, stepped up and slotted home his shot to level things.
Once in penalties, NYCFC looked to have the advantage after a conversion by Sucheki and subsequent save from Wood, but RSL then went on to make their final four attempts, including the winner from fullback Abel Mendoza. NYCFC played without US youth internationals Andres Jasson and Tayvon Gray, both of whom are expected to compete in the Dallas Cup Super Group on Monday with the Cityzen's Under-19 team.
Garcia noted that while the first 25 minutes didn’t go their way, his side ultimately found their strength.
“We started really slow but at the end [of the game], we started getting rhythm and started creating more chances than in the first half.”
After missing out on Champions Division play last season, RSL’s opportunistic play created a welcomed start in a tournament that Garcia knows can provide great exposure for the players.
“I think this is a really important tournament,” Garcia said following the game. “I really like this tournament because it lets us showcase our talent. Many players that are here are the best of the best.”