Ronny Deila made one change to the XI which began the 2-0 win in New England, bringing in Jesus Medina for Gary Mackay-Steven on the right wing, meaning Alex Ring kept his place on the left flank and Maxi Moralez was once again fit enough to start.
Héber led the line on his return to the stadium where he opened his NYCFC account in one of two road wins in the nation’s capital last term.
Chasing a fourth-successive victory against a D.C. team with one win in their last seven, City enjoyed 80% of possession in the opening 15’ as the hosts hunkered deep and put up a defensive gameplan.
It wasn’t easy to find a way through with two low blocks of five defenders and four midfielders making the final third of the pitch densely populated – however, NYCFC were able to fashion two clear chances inside one first half minute.
On 25’, Keaton Parks will have been disappointed not to finish off Ronald Matarrita’s cross on the volley with a lot of the goal to aim at, while on 26’ it was Medina who saw his sliding finish roll the wrong side of the post.
The D.C. goal was starting to look under increasing threat and the home side were a little fortunate to see a VAR call go their way on the stroke of halftime after former Blue Frederic Brillant appeared to handle in the box.
Somehow it remained goalless at the break, though NYC could at least look back on another half of dominant play from in-form NYCFC.
That pattern continued in the second period as Alex Ring forced Chris Seitz into a strong save with a shot on the turn on 49’ and on 58’ Héber saw a header cleared off the line by Brillant – still the goal wouldn’t come.
Gary Mackay-Steven and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi were introduced on 69’ and Taty Castellanos came in on 74’ as Deila looked for the combinations to try and find the breakthrough goal NYCFC’s play had warranted.
On 88’, Mackay-Steven did finally beat Seitz and had the ball in the back of the net, but Ted Unkel brought the play back for an alleged handball by Castellanos.
That was the final chance of the night, meaning the match somehow ended goalless.
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