Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid each put on a goalkeeping clinic as New York City FC and D.C. United played to a 0-0 draw at Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Johnson made three saves, all of which were difficult, as NYCFC has opened the 2019 season with back-to-back draws against Eastern Conference opposition. Hamid had six saves to secure a second consecutive clean sheet to start the season.
“It was one of those games. It just seemed like the ball wasn’t going to go in the back in the net today,” Johnson said. “I think both teams play well. I think, the back line was solid as well. We limited them to three opportunities the entire match. We had a bit more, more action in their half, but Bill played well so hats off to him as well.”
Johnson’s best save might have been his first, when he ranged to his right to get a hand on an open attempt by Luciano Acosta, the first of two saves to deny the Argentine playmaker.
It came at a time when D.C. United pressed the Cityzens, forcing turnovers in their defensive third.
“I think he woke us up a little because our first 15 minutes were too soft,” NYCFC captain Alex Ring said. “We weren’t in the game, but after that I think there was no question of who was the better team for 75 minutes. I think it was petty obvious.”
Hamid saved his best for last when he robbed Ring of a diving header in the 89th minute, ranging back to get his right hand on the shot.
“I thought Bill Hamid was fantastic today for us,” D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney said. “He made some really good saves. But I think probably a fair result.”
Hamid deflected praise to D.C. United’s back line and holding midfielders Junior Morenoand Russell Canouse for limiting an NYCFC team that had 65.6 percent of possession and outshot the visitors 21-7.
And he also credited his close friend Johnson in the other net.
“The backline, holding midfielders, we have a good chemistry about us right now,” Hamid said. “Two shutouts in a row is really good in this league. We just want to keep building on that. Not only me, Sean had an amazing game in goal for City. I have a lot of respect for him.”
While D.C. United’s attackers, especially Rooney, Acosta and Paul Arriola, all of whom are back from last year’s squad that made a stunning second-half push to reach the MLS Cup playoffs, were fluid and combined well, NYCFC were a bit disjointed in the attacking third.
Romanian Designated Player Alexandru Mitrita had a team-high seven shots and energized the announced crowd of 24,361 with every touch. But his most dangerous opportunity came on a free kick from 24 yards out in the 78th minute that Hamid saw clearly and was able to knock down in front of him.
NYCFC coach Dome Torrent made two changes to his team from the squad that squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Orlando City SC last week, starting both Jesus Medina and Valentin Castellanos on the wings in his 4-2-3-1 formation. Both players were subbed off in the second half.
Castellanos had a chance four minutes after halftime when he latched onto a Maxi Moralez cross, but his downward header from the edge of the six-yard box was off target.
“Soccer is not about keeping the ball and having more possession than the opponent. We need to play much better,” Torrent said. “I prefer to play quickly, one to two touches, but I prefer to keep the ball and not play the long ball like the last game in Orlando. If you keep with ball, with the idea to attack it’s good, you can’t pass the ball to pass the ball. Especially against a team like this, DC defends really well, they are one of the best teams when they defend and you have to play quickly.”