Toronto’s midweek visit to the Bronx marked the first time NYCFC had hosted a match on 9/11, meaning the pre-game Tunnel of Honor carried extra special significance for all gathered for an emotional First Responders Night at Yankee Stadium.
Our neighbours to the north inflicted City’s heaviest defeat of 2019, 4-0 back in March, meaning there was no lack of motivation on the blue side to extend the current Club record for consecutive wins to six.
A combination of injuries, international duty and suspensions deprived both teams of regular starters, with Dome Torrent making four changes to the team which rallied late to overcome the New England Revolution on Saturday.
In came Jesus Medina after his heroic two-goal show off the bench, along with Sean Johnson, Ronald Matarrita and Tony Rocha who all returned from international duty.
City’s task was complicated with the suspension handed out to Maxi Moralez for yellow card accumulation but, as has been the case lately for NYCFC, when one goes down, another steps up.
With just six minutes on the clock, it was Mitriță who came up big with his eighth goal of the season: a rocket of a free-kick from the edge of the box which left Quentin Westberg with no chance.
Up early, New York City’s Football Club kept their foot to the floor and continued piling forward for a second goal, with Taty Castellanos especially dangerous up front.
On 26’, the Argentine almost notched a goal but his shot was deflected into the sidenetting after he’d ran at a defender and found a yard of space to strike.
Toronto reminded the home side of the threat they could pose on 36’ when Jozy Altidore had the ball in the back of the net but the assistant referee flagged for offside.
However, just two minutes later Toronto did equalize courtesy of Alejandro Pozuelo, who converted from the penalty spot after Sebastien Ibeagha pulled down Altidore in the area.
Level at the break, the pattern of play continued in the opening 15’ of the second half with both teams evenly-matched and with clear chances at a premium.
On 62’, Dome introduced Ismael Tajouri-Shradi from the bench in a bid to turn one point into three but it was Ronald Matarrita who went closest to finding a City winner with his volley which unluckily came back off the post.
Toronto were next to threaten and it was once again from the penalty spot on 78’ after a penalty was awarded on VAR for handball by Ben Sweat.
Again, Pozuelo stepped up, but this time Johnson would not be beaten, pawing away the shot and lifting the roof off Yankee Stadium with the biggest cheer of the night.
There was time left for one more moment of controversy, in stoppage-time, when Taty Castellanos was elbowed in the face by Chris Mavinga, but the referee opted to give a free-kick in Toronto’s favour, much to the disdain of the players and fans.
With blood streaming from Taty’s nose, the appeals were lengthy, but referee Chris Penso chose not to review his initial decision and his full-time whistle sounded on a 1-1 draw.
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