New York City Lose Lead Late Again

C. J. Sapong’s 86th-minute equalizer forces NYCFC to settle for a draw against Philadelphia

By Faraz T. Toor

Facing the Philadelphia Union for the second time in five days, New York City Football Club hoped they could avoid surrendering a late goal and secure three points for the second time this season.

C. J. Sapong had other ideas.

New York’s Mehdi Ballouchy scored a sweet curler, but Sapong’s 86th-minute goal won the Union a point in the Eastern Conference standings, as the teams settled for a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.

“Any time you play the same team back-to-back, there’s always a little bit of vengeance and rivalry, especially if you lose it late,” New York City goalkeeper Josh Saunders said after the match. “So yeah, it is tough to take another goal late.”

Philadelphia—who beat NYC 2-1 at home, thanks to midfielder Vincent Nogueria’s 92nd-minute winner in the teams’ last match on April 11—got another late point, this time from a forward. Just minutes from stoppage time Thursday, the Union sent a 40-yard pass to defender Maurice Edu in the penalty area.

New York defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe jumped up in front of Edu, but he mistimed his jump and the ball went behind him to Edu, whose header bounced three yards in front of Saunders and found the substitute Sapong on a hop. One-on-one against Saunders, Sapong played the volley off his right foot and into the top right of the net to tie the match, 1-1.

“[It was] just kind of a hopeful ball in the box for them. You give them credit, kind of a second ball situation,” said Saunders, who made six saves in the match. “They were hungry. They wanted to get to it. We didn’t necessarily make the play to clear the ball out of the box. For me, I was just hoping my guy would kick it straight at me…[It] feels like a loss.”

“There’s disappointment, of course,” midfielder Khiry Shelton said. “We’re at home, so [it was] a big thing. I think letting that goal in was unacceptable and we need to do better than that.”

In the 57th minute, midfielder Ballouchy had by far the best shot of the night, and the game’s first goal. Shelton sent him a long pass on the right side, just outside the penalty area. Ballouchy, who had suffered a hard knock to his jaw and ankles in the first half, cut left after he feigned moving right, left a defender behind, and moved into the edge of the penalty area.

Ballouchy then curled an 18-yard shot into the left side of the net with his left foot, past the diving Philadelphia goalkeeper John McCarthy, to give NYCFC a 1-0 lead.

“I had the ball, started driving at the back four, it opened up,” Ballouchy said. “I saw that [Shelton] saw me; he played me through, I faked that I was going to go out, came back in to my left, and fortunately it connected well and ended up going in.”

New York called for a penalty in the 25th minute after two Union defenders appeared to shove Villa down in the penalty area, five yards away from McCarthy—but the referee disagreed.

In the 28th minute, New York City had their best opportunity of the first half. On the near side, just inside the penalty area, a Union defender committed to forward David Villa, who sent a back-heel pass to Ballouchy, who came up the middle.

Ballouchy, unmarked, had a one-on-one with McCarthy. Five yards away from net, he chipped his shot over the goalie’s head, who had committed and dropped down to take the ball. But Ballouchy’s contact was too strong and the shot went over the crossbar by half a foot.

Philadelphia nearly equalized early in the 73rd minute. After New York failed to clear a long Union cross in the edge of the penalty area and instead sent it to Sheanon Williams, the Philadelphia defender passed it low to midfielder Zach Pfeffer. Pfeffer bounced a shot into the ground, which rebounded up and towards the near post before Saunders knocked it down with his left hand.

NYCFC had a few open opportunities for goals in the first half. In the 27th minute, forward Adam Nemec, positioned ten yards in front of McCarthy, sent a header off a cross, but it went over the crossbar by a few inches.

11 minutes later, Villa sent a back-heel pass to Shelton, who made his first start after New York drafted him second overall in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft in January. In the penalty area, Shelton cut inside and past McCarthy, who moved forward, off his line, leaving an open net. Two Philadelphia defenders ran to cover the net, and Shelton’s shot deflected off one of them and back into McCarthy’s arms.

“I thought I played well today—created chances for other guys, had chances myself,” Shelton said. “I have pace. And a lot of people know that, and I think I was able to get behind. And over the time of the game they were dropping off, so people were able to find [me] underneath, so I created chances from there. I was able to stretch them all out.”

Villa came off for Kwadwo Poku at half-time and was not available for post-game interviews.

- Additional reporting by Brian Munguia

WBCR Sports Broadcasting Game

Are you ready for the 2013-2014 season college basket ball games? The men’s and women’s Brooklyn College Bull Dogs will be playing. To listen to the broadcast, CLICK ON THE IMAGE OR HERE. We will be broadcasting our first game of the regular season this Friday November 15 at 8pm in Vassar College. You can listen to the pregame at 7:30pm.

Blueprint Radio

Waking up in the morning, most sports fans turn on the television and put on ESPN to find out what the latest scores and stories are. Depending on the time of year, the sport that is in the midst of a season usually gets the most airtime. That is the blueprint for one of the sports shows on WBCR, Blueprint Radio.

Blueprint Radio’s host, Chris Brundage, says he wakes up to watch the nationally syndicated Mike and Mike Show, and listens to the Michael Kay Show in the afternoon. Based on what the hot topics of the day are, Brundage takes them and throws in his own take in Blueprint Radio.

“I’m not afraid to say anything on the air,” said Brundage. “People may not always love it, but I have to be honest. I don’t hold my tongue.”

His honesty is what he says separates him from the other radio shows at the station. There is no focus on local teams on Blueprint Radio. The biggest sport story in the country or the most significant story in a sport is what will be talked about. Around this time of the year he says he likes to spend most of his hour of airtime talking about football. But as the year moves along, basketball and baseball become a larger part of the show.

Although the show broadcasts here in New York City, Brundage’s only favorite local team is the New York Yankees. All other New York clubs are free game for Brundage to discuss.

“I’ve ripped the Knicks and every other New York sports team,” he said. “I’ve also ripped college sports teams. I talk about any team in the country.”

But the show isn’t all about ripping teams. Brundage, the Music Director at WBCR, incorporates music into his show breaks. But instead of playing a typical radio song, he instead chooses songs that somewhat relate to the topic being discussed.

“I’ve talked about the Phil Jackson situation recently and I’ve played something that is related to money,” he said. “I did the same with the Marlins’ recent trades. I try to relate the music and the topic.”

Brundage’s experience at stations like Power 105 and WBCR has allowed him to think about possibly expanding the show to two hours. However, he says that expanding it to two hours just for the sake of having two hours wouldn’t be the right move. Unlike other show hosts who tend to hammer the same point constantly, Brundage says what he has to say and moves on.

“I could sit and talk about the Knicks for hours,” said Brundage, though, cracking on the basketball team that plays at Madison Square Garden.

Callers are also part of Blueprint Radio, as they are on most sports talk shows. Although time constraints sometimes limits the number of callers he can put on the air, Brundage says that he has been lucky to have informed listeners call into the show.

Blueprint Radio airs every Wednesday from 4 to 5 pm on WBCR.

Downtown Sports Hour

Many sports commentary shows pride themselves as being highly opinionated and full of fiery debate, not minding verbally attacking one team while praising another to no end.

Downtown Sports Hour is not one of those programs.

Airing Wednesdays from 10-12 pm on WBCR, Downtown Sports Hour tries to be as unbiased, neutral, and fair to athletes, sport teams, and fans as possible.

“We want to be professional because if there’s one thing important when you do a broadcast, you can’t be biased,” said Jonathan Pariente, the host of Downtown Sports Hour. “It doesn’t create a good impression. As much as I would like to criticize everything bad for a football team, I have to mention the good things as well. I have to cross a fine line.”

Originally John Schiavone’s show, Downtown Sports Hour was restarted by Pariente in the autumn of 2010 to further his goal of becoming a professional sports broadcaster.

“My main goal is to be a sports commentator one day – do play-by-play,” he said. “That’s what spurred me on to do this show.”

“Broadcasting world is a tough industry and usually before you become a sports broadcaster you have to do stuff outside of it,” said Pariente explaining his reasons for hosting his show. “The more radio shows you do first, it gives you the experience of what it’s like being on the air.”

With his usual co-host Nick Sainato, Pariente attempts to analyze the major American sports in a controlled tone.

“It could be baseball, football, basketball, hockey,” said Pariente, explaining what he talks about on Downtown Sports Hour. “We basically give our opinions on our home teams and teams around the league, and we debate about it basically.

“We don’t just stick to local; we stick to other teams as well. We like to talk about what teams are hot, which are cold, and which surprised us.

“Debating on a sports show is fun; you always get different opinions,” he added.

Pariente talks about previous and upcoming games on his show as well, not only pondering abstract sports topics.

“When we talk about upcoming games for NFL we include match ups and we have debates,” he said.

Pariente’s shows are fairly structured, as he has a set plan of what he will talk about going into his broadcasts.

“Before I do my show I have a rundown sheet of all the topics I’m going to talk about,” said Pariente, the Sports Director at WBCR. “I always put a certain number of minutes on each topic.”

Adding his unique flair to his sports commentary show, Pariente uses music to signal when he will discuss a particular sport, such as using the NFL on CBS theme song when he is about to start a football conversation.

“I feel if I play one of the particular themes for the sports on television, immediately listeners know what sport we’re talking about,” said Pariente.

Despite his attempts to be as devoid of emotion as possible when analyzing sports, Pariente’s sports beginnings are filled with feeling.

“I like doing this show because I’m a big sports guy,” he said. “I’ve been a sports fan for a long time. I’m a big Yankees fan, I’m a big Rangers fan, I like football, I’m a big Jets fan….It’s just something I really loved when I was little – when I was five or six years old.”

Even years later, Pariente maintains his style: giving balanced opinion.

“Every broadcaster has their own style, and as much as you try to mimic them it will never be the same,” said Pariente. “So, I say it’s better to do your own style and be yourself. That’s the point of doing stuff on the radio: You gotta be yourself.”

Pariente’s fairness also applies to his listeners.

“If they come up with some nonsense on the air I’m definitely going to disagree with them, but I have to respect the listeners,” he said.

Pariente focuses on that respect for objectivity so much because he often sees opposite examples in sports media today and doesn’t agree with them.

“In the sports world you can’t favor one side,” said Pariente, expressing his view. “If you point out the negatives you have to point out their positives, too.”

In the downtown, he makes sure to check off everything: fairness, a lack of bias, and neutrality. For him, it’s necessary to cross that fine line.