Anytime New York City FC and Toronto FC face off, there's always goals and there's always drama. Tonight was no different as the two teams courted controversy and finished with a 2-2 scoreline.
The last time the two teams had met was in the MLS Cup playoffs were Toronto routed NYCFC but in the regular season of Major League Soccer, NYCFC tends to be the victors. Today was a different story.
Giovinco exits the game early and Villa gets an important equalizer
The game started off with neither team exerting their control on the tempo and fans watched as the ball went back and forth as both teams attacked at will. What differed between the two teams initially was that when Toronto went forward, they did so with style and a cutting edge whereas NYCFC did not test
TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono until later on in the first half. It was no surprise that Toronto was the team that took the lead based on how the game had gone up until that point. Oyvind Alseth, who was playing in the place of the injured Steven Beitashour, managed to get forward and lose his marker to get to the byline before cutting the ball back into the box. Ashton Morgan, the other wing back for the day, made a late run to the far post and met Alseth's cross with a first-time volley that gave Toronto the lead in the 12th minute.
The goal seemed to wake the home side up and they could have equalized in the 23rd minute when David Villa flicked the ball back to Thomas McNamara but the forward was unable to get past Bono or the post during that sequence. The game then shifted in favor of NYCFC when after missing a great chance from a few yards out, Sebastian Giovinco, was substituted out of the game in the 40th minute.
Toronto took a long time to readjust to Giovinco's loss and NYCFC started to pepper the TFC goal with shots on a regular basis. Their dominance paid off in extra time at the end of the first half when Villa and Jack Harrison combined before the NYCFC captain fired low past Bono into the near corner from just outside the box.
The drama gets ramped up in the second half
The game really came to life in a seven-minute spell at the beginning of the second half. The first flash point was a disallowed goal in the 49th minute by substitute Jay Chapman. Cheyrou had gotten forward again and crossed the ball to a wide open Ben Spencer who made a hash of his chance and nodded the ball off of Chapman and into the empty net. The referee on the night, Jorge Gonzalez, initially gave the goal but his linesman Danny Thornberry convinced him that Chapman was offside when the ball hit him so the goal should be taken back.
After multiple replays, Thornberry was proven to be right but TFC head coach Greg Vanney did not agree with that decision. He was then sent to the stands two minutes later by Gonzalez for something he said to the fourth official. Toronto then lost their concentration and NYCFC made them pay for it in the 56th minute when Villa found Maxi Morález who after a bad first touch, had his effort deflected off of Chris Mavinga and past Bono to put the home team ahead.
For some inexplicable reason, NYCFC decided to drop back and let Toronto have the ball for the remaining 15 to 20 minutes of the game. The players did seem to be tired and that could have been the reason but it allowed the away side to grow in confidence and when the fresh legs of Raheem Edwards came on in the 71st minute, Toronto took complete control of the game. Edwards was sharp and caused R.J. Allen problems all throughout his time on the field.
His presence allowed Cheyrou and Victor Vázquez to have their way with the midfield and Toronto created chances in front of goal that they did not capitalize on until stoppage time. Cheyrou crossed the ball towards another substitute, Jordan Hamilton, who was then brought down by Allen after Hamilton's first touch had put him through on goal. Vázquez sent goalkeeper Sean Johnson the wrong way and his penalty came off the post before nestling into the goal to give the visitors a late equalizer. Toronto will be placed with how they acquired themselves in this match facing so many issues before and during the match whereas Patrick Vieira will be wondering how his team managed to let two points slip away tonight.