An end-to-end affair unfolded in Ohio on Saturday night, with NYCFC falling foul of a five-goal thriller. The Boys in Blue got off to a great start when Malte Amundsen's cross deflected in off Jonathan Mensah in the third minute. Goals from Cucho Hernández and Lucas Zelarayán gave the Crew a 2-1 advantage before Gabriel Pereira leveled things up with a deflected effort from distance. The hosts would again go ahead with Zelarayán's second of the night and in the end that would prove enough for a 3-2 Crew win.
The Boys in Blue were in the midwest on Saturday night as they took on Columbus Crew at Lower.com field.
Interim Head Coach Nick Cushing made two changes to the starting XI that secured a point against CF Montréal last time out; swapping central midfield pairing Justin Haak and Maxi Moralez with Alfredo Morales and Nicolás Acevedo.
The home fans barely had time to get seated when NYCFC took a third-minute lead. The play began when Gabriel Pereira collected the ball and found Malte Amundsen in space.
His attempted cross took a wicked deflection off Crew defender Jonathan Mensah that sent the ball past a helpless Eloy Room to give NYCFC the lead.
The Crew sought an instant response and that meant Amundsen was needed at the other end just minutes later when Luis Diaz made a bursting run through the middle and was found by Cucho Hernández - the Dane doing well to recover and poke it away for a corner.
In the 10th minute, Hernández would record his first effort on target after firing off an attempt from the top of the box. On hand was Sean Johnson to tip the ball around the post.
The visitors did draw level ten minutes later after Luis Diaz's pullback found Hernández making a late run into the box and his low effort found its way into the bottom corner.
NYCFC continued to push for a go-ahead goal, but it would be the Crew that struck next. A turnover in the defensive third in the 27th minute allowed Lucas Zelarayán an opening and he curled it past Johnson.
Keen to respond Pereira thought he'd found the equalizer in the 36th minute after some neat interplay allowed Héber to fire a low cross from the left. Crashing in was his compatriot Pereira, but his effort was saved at point plank range by Room.
As the half came to a close Columbus again found success with a high press, this time through Hernández. His effort from the top of the box clipped Johnson's crossbar and went out for a goal kick.
The second half brought with it no major changes for NYCFC, but an early effort from Acevedo. The midfielder collected the ball on the edge of the box in the 54th minute, and his side-footed effort was well saved by Room.
NYCFC's first changes of the game would arrive in the 57th minute. Entering the game was Maxi Moralez and Anton Tinnerholm in place of Héber and Tayvon Gray.
An equalizer for the Boys in Blue would not be far away, and in the 64th minute their pressure told. Some neat play around the edge of the penalty area eventually saw the ball land with Pereira. After shifting inside his shot on goal took a deflection and ended up in the net.
The two teams were now trading shots, and first it was Moralez that was denied after winning the ball high up the field. Next it was the turn of Zelarayán as he delivered a stinging effort that Johnson did tremendously to turn round the post.
NYCFC were forced into a change in the 73rd minute when Alex Callens was injured as a result of a coming together - Maxime Chanot entering the game in his place.
Columbus would snatch the next goal in the game two minutes later after Zelarayán was found in the box unmarked. His driven effort ending up in the bottom corner.
Cushing would turn to his bench again in the wake of the goal by introducing Thiago Andrade for Pereira. He almost made an instant impact when Talles Magno played him in on goal, his effort to round the goalkeeper only narrowly failing to come off.
In the 89th minute, a corner kick from Moralez found teammate Alfredo Morales at the near post. His headed effort had enough power but ended up just wide of the near post.
Chanot came close to leveling the game in injury time from a Moralez freekick, but the ball trickled wide. That would unfortunately be the final notable act and confirm a 3-2 defeat for NYCFC.
Next up for New York City Football Club is a meeting with Inter Miami CF on Saturday, Aug. 13. Kickoff at DRV PNK Stadium is set for 8 p.m. ET (YES Network/NYCFC.com/Radio).