Sport

Justin Meram, Ola Kamara strike as Columbus beats NYCFC 4-1

For the second straight season, New York City FC finished second in the Eastern Conference, and for the second straight season, the club was annihilated in their Audi MLS Cup Playoff opener. Goals from Ola Kamara, Artur, Justin Meram and Harrison Afful gave the host side the upper hand ahead of Sunday's second leg in NY, while David Villa's late strike gave his team an away goal that could make a difference in deciding the victor of the tie.

Artur, Justin Meram and Harrison Afful added second-half goals after NYCFC lost Alexander Callens to a red card in the 52nd minute, putting the Manchester City-owned side in a major hole in the two-match, total goals series. After the match, head coach Patrick Vieira said those missed chances decided the match. When you concede four goals away from home, you make things very hard for yourselves. "We've got the guys; we've got a talented group and a mentally strong group". "If we score those, it's a completely different game". "We're going to give ourselves a good chance".

"We re-purposed our mission", Berhalter said, "and it's exclusively to play for the fans and give them as many home games as we can and let them enjoy something". His team has scored two goals just once in their last 10 games, an issue he readily identified.

Sean Johnson was unable to keep out Meram in the 69th minute as the Crew raced clear before Villa pounced with 12 minutes remaining to score New York's first play-off goal since their inception in 2015.

"I think this is a collective game", Vieira said, "and I don't want to blame the goalkeeper or our back four because I think we created enough chances to stay in the game". "But I think when you have one man down, the team, the players have to do a little bit more and we didn't do it". "It's just, we don't score goals". "What will be important for us is to take our chances". When the tie returns to Yankee Stadium, the hosts will also have to deal without the services ofAlexander Callens.

Ola Kamara, Artur, Justin Meram and Harrison Afful were on target for the Crew as NY played nearly 40 minutes with 10 men following a red card to Alexander Callens. "It wasn't easy for us". Vieira said "we're going to try" to come up with a gameplan to win, but said he's seen his team create enough chances to put up goals against Columbus. "And we did." Nonetheless. the former France worldwide and Arsenal star said his team wouldn't go into the match with a defeatist attitude.



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