It’s been two games, but Anton Tinnerholm certainly looks like he’s fixed New York City FC’s right back problems.
Head coach Patrick Vieira has plugged numerous players at the position since 2016, with RJ Allen carrying most of the workload before Ethan White displaced him last season.
Neither of the two is with NYCFC this season, which allowed Vieira to find the last piece to his attacking puzzle.
That’s where Tinnerholm, the 2017 Allsvenskan Defender of the Year with Malmo FF, fits perfectly in Vieira’s system.
Tinnerholm has fit right into the fold for NYCFC, working the right wing with pace and tight defending while making well-timed runs along the wing that were displayed in the 2-1 win against the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Tinnerholm understands his expectations with NYCFC and likes to play deep into the opposition’s box, which Vieira wants his fullbacks to do. He was rewarded for that when he scored a tremendous left-footed goal in the 22nd minute.
“We have a clear idea of how we want to play and I feel like you saw it today, especially in the first half,” Tinnerholm said. “We want to keep the ball with the team and I think a lot of teams will have a lot of problems when they come here and even when we play away.
“We want to have the ball on the ground, keep it with the team and let the opponents run a lot, so we have a clear idea of how we want to play.”
Sebastien Ibeagha might be NYCFC’s latest find in lower-division soccer.
Ibeagha, a trialist who was later signed from San Antonio FC, made his second appearance for the team this season, starting at center back for the suspended Maxime Chanot on Sunday. The 26-year-old did well to minimize Ola Kamara’s influence on the game, registering a game-high eight clearances while looking comfortable on the ball next to Tinnerholm on the right side of the backline.
“That’s a big part of my game,” Ibeagha said about playing from the back. “I’ve been developing [that] since I came out of college. Here, they want it even more, so I think it’s a great fit.”
His play caught Vieira’s eye, with the coaching calling his performance “magnificent.”
Considering it was Ibeagha’s first MLS start, that’s pretty high praise.
It’s been a long road that’s taken him literally around the world since he left Duke University in 2013. Ibeagha had stops in Denmark and Iceland before getting a gig with the Houston Dynamo, which resulted in loan moves to USL sides Rio Grande Valley FC Toros and Rayo OKC.
He played 30 matches last season with San Antonio FC, NYCFC’s USL affiliate, grabbing the league’s defender of the years honors.
“I think as a player and as a person I’ve grown a lot more,” explained Ibeagha, saying he’s more “seasoned” since his Houston days. “I think Houston still also helped me because I still knew the level and even when I went down to USL, it wasn’t like I wasn’t good enough — it was more like I needed to get more acclimated to the level again and get back into it. I think that’s the big thing that really helped me in Houston. Even if I didn’t play, I still learned a lot from it.”
It’s the second year in a row that NYCFC used a lower-level division for defensive help. Ben Sweat was signed as a trialist last season after spending time with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League.
Published at Mon, 12 Mar 2018 16:45:53 +0000