Alex Ring has done all of his interviews in front of his locker at Yankee Stadium, but Friday night he was summoned to a roped-off area with the New York City FC backdrop behind him. It’s where David Villa conducted all of his post-game interviews.
“It’s my first time here, so apparently yes,” Ring joked when it was suggested he did something special to get that treatment.
What Ring did was lead his team to a 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City with one goal and two assists in front of an announced crowd of 20,178 Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
“He’s outstanding today,” Anton Tinnerholm said. “He’s important every game, not just one day when he scores and makes the assists. He makes a huge impact for the team. And he’s a leader, of course, and we look up to him and he takes care of the team in a really good way. I think today he showed his quality even when he played like a No 10.”
NYCFC (9-3-8, 35 points) took the lead in the 41st minute on a well-worked goal finished by Tinnerholm.
The sequence started with a Sean Johnson goal kick. Four passes later, Ronald Matarrita received the ball and passed in the direction of Ring, who made a dummy run and sprinted into the box to latch onto a Alexandru Mitrita pass.
Ring sent a ball to the back post, where Tinnerholm knocked it in with his right foot before crashing into the back of the net.
“It’s exactly the way we want to play,” Tinnerholm said. “It’s not just about the goal. If you look at the buildup, our work through the penalty area. It’s an amazing goal.”
“The first goal was fantastic. … It’s the style we want to create here,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said.
Heber continued his torrid scoring pace in the 54th minute with his ninth goal of the season. The Brazilian was slipped in behind by Ring, and with his second touch beat onrushing Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia to double NYCFC’s advantage. He became the first NYCFC player to score in five consecutive games.
Sporting Kansas City (6-9-7, 25 points) was reduced to 10 men in the 62nd minute when Roger Espinoza caught Maxime Chanot with a studs-up challenge to the defender’s knee. Referee Dave Gantar initially pulled out a yellow card, but Espinoza earned a straight red card following video review.
Late in the first half, Chanot was booked for a harsh tackle on Gerso Fernandes and Espinoza received a yellow card for pushing over Tinnerholm during the ensuing scrum.
Ilie Sanchez pulled SKC back a goal in the 73rd minute, latching onto a ball headed in front of goal by Benny Feilhaber after a Johnny Russell corner. Sanchez nodded the ball past NYC goalkeeper Sean Johnson from the edge of the 6-yard box.
Ring quickly responded with his third goal of the season in the 77th minute, taking a pass from Gary Mackay-Steven and beating Melia with a low shot inside the far post, solidifying his Man of the Match award and the star-like treatment in the locker room.
“The guys made me look good today because we played positional and they they found me in the in the right spot,” Ring said. “So it was it was easy to play today.”
NYCFC nearly added a fourth goal in the 86th minute when Mackay-Steven sent a ball to Taty Castellanos in front of goal, but Graham Zusi made a saving sliding tackle to keep the ball from going over the end line.
The one potentially troubling negative for NYCFC came in the 51st minute when Maxi Moralez left the game with a calf injury in the 51st minute, putting his participation in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game in question.
“He had discomfort in the first half. He said to me, maybe I can play 10, 11, 15 minutes,” Torent said. “But in the first action [of the second half], he said it was impossible to play and I decide to change. I don’t know what will happen in the All-Star Game, but everybody knows the game was not over in that moment. Maybe we miss this player for two, three weeks. I don’t know right now. We have to wait one or two days and have medical tests about Maxi.”
NYCFC returns to action next Saturday when they face Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium, while Sporting heads to CenturyLink Field to meet the Seattle Sounders Aug. 4.
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