(NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez battles for position – USA Today Sports)
New York City Football Club and Toronto FC played to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as each team fights for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
With the point, Toronto improved to 11-6-3, with 39 points, and surpassed the Chicago Fire, who have 38. NYCFC, who are in third, are now 10-4-6, with 34 points.
Toronto got on the board first, as Ashtone Morgan, coming down the left side, scored off a feed from Ben Spencer, who was by the right post. NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson did not have enough time to get across to cover Morgan’s shot. It was Morgan’s first career MLS goal.
NYCFC got plenty of chances after that in the first half, with four shots on target, but it wasn’t until the 47th minute that they broke through.
Jack Harrison, coming down the left side, got it to David Villa, who was trailing the play down the center, and he buried it to tie it up at 1 heading to halftime. It was Villa’s 14th goal of the season.
In the second half, 51st minute, it looked like Toronto took the lead on a goal by Spencer, but a late offsides call took it off the board. A furious argument ensued, and Toronto Head Coach Greg Vanney was sent off.
NYCFC took advantage, and in the 56th minute, it was Maxi Moralez who scored off a brilliant feed from Villa to make it 2-1.
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira acknowledged that he was surprised they were ahead in the second half, and said after the game, “Managing to win 2-1 with the way we were playing tonight, I was going to be satisfied. Sometimes you need to accept that the other team is playing better.”
It stayed that way until the 90th minute, when NYCFC defender R.J. Allen took down Jordan Hamilton in the box and was awarded a yellow card. Toronto received a penalty kick, which was taken by Victor Vazquez.
Vazquez shot it down the center of the net, and Johnson made contact with it, but not enough to prevent the tying goal and notch this one up at 2.
Vieira said of the late goal, “The way we conceded the second goal, it was bad defending. You have to give [Toronto] more credit. If I was in their shoes, I’d be really disappointed to go back to Toronto with only a point.”
For Toronto to get out of this with a point was quite impressive considering they were without Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, due to Gold Cup duties for the US National team, and lost their top scorer Sebastian Giovinco to an injury in the 39th minute.
Vieira said of Toronto, “I think they showed how good they are. That’s one of the strongest rosters in the league, if not the strongest one.”
NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson said of dropping points at home, “Home games are very important. We can’t drop points like we did today, being in a position where we had three points in the bag, ready to walk off the field and we give away something silly at the end of the game.”
NYCFC continues to face the East’s elites as they host the Chicago Fire on Saturday at 2 pm at Yankee Stadium.
Vieira said of that game and the battle for the top spot, “We’re not thinking about the first position because there’s still a really long way to go.”