(David Villa celebrates a goal past Toronto FC goalie Clint Irwin – Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire)
New York City FC entered the home opener of their second season with a new coach, Patrick Vieira, and a lot of optimism, but the game was not much different than last season.
NYC FC were flying in the first half against Toronto FC on Sunday, getting big chances all over the place and controlling possession 59 percent of the time.
David Villa scored on a penalty kick in the 24th minute, and again just four minutes later to give NYC FC a 2-0 lead.
Andrea Pirlo, who had a great game, set up Villa with a great chance in the 42nd minute. Villa got off a great shot and missed a hat trick by inches.
On what turned out to be the last play of the first half, Sebastian Giovinco took a free kick from the right side, shot it into the center of the crease, and Damien Perquis tipped it in to get Toronto on the board and cut NYC FC’s lead to 2-1 at the half.
NYC FC midfielder Mikey Lopez said of the momentum Toronto received from their goal before the half, “Any time that you give a team a glimmer of hope it is always difficult. We just have to be better and next time we have to close out the game. That type of stuff just happens, like I said, its football.”
NYC FC forward Tony Taylor said of Toronto’s late first half goal, “I feel that if they didn’t score that late goal then we definitely could have finished them off in the second half. That gave them a little bit of life and we really need to learn from our mistakes and look forward to our next game.”
In the second half, Toronto kept pressing, getting chance after chance, and it seemed inevitable that they would tie it.
Giovinco struck again in the 76th minute, as he fired one from just outside the box to tie it at 2.
NYC FC did not get many chances after that, so the game ended as a disappointing 2-2 draw.
NYC FC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of improving late-game defense, “I don’t think it’s the mentality problem, I think it’s just about how can we deal with a situation where we are the pusher and this is what we need to focus on. I think it’s just about the team dealing with the pressure, I think we just have sometimes to accept that the other team is playing in a certain period of the game and, in that period of the game, we have to be a little bit more stronger as a team and defend better.”
Vieira said of the game, “Today, we conceded the goals at the wrong time, especially the first one, and I think the goals we concede before halftime give them the momentum and a bit more belief. I think if we went back into the dressing room up two-nil (2-0), it would be a completely different game.”
Vieira said of it feeling like they lost two points (one for a tie, instead of three for a win) in this one, “There’s a lot of frustration from our part, on our side, because when you lead two-nil (2-0) and you need to control the game a bit better, but I think you have to give credit to Toronto with the way they played and I think, as a team, we will get better. That’s what I was saying after our first game against Chicago (4-3 NYC win on March 6), that this team, with the way they work, will get better and better and stronger and stronger, and I think as a team, we were better today than we were against Chicago and we will be even better against Orlando (on Friday) because we will make the commitment and the hard work for the fans.”
Vieira said of the defense from the midfield improving from the opener in Chicago, “Our objective for this game was to control the game and that was the reason why we played Federico (Bravo) next to Andrea (Pirlo) and that gave us a bit more solidity, and I think Federico tonight was fantastic. We will see against Orlando if we go back to a 4-3-3, with three at the back, three in the midfield, and four up front. What is really good is that we have a system that we can play around and try to control games.”
Following Taylor said of Vieira’s system, “I think that we are a lot tighter now on defense, we didn’t leave gaps for the other team to expose us from behind as much as we did during that Chicago game and I think that we can keep improving from that.”
NYC FC midfielder Mix Diskerud said of the new lineup formation, “We’ve been playing for a couple of weeks now with that system and I think that it’s the more we play with it the more comfortable we will be. Coach told us before the season started that we were going to be working in different systems for different games and it worked out well for a period of time, as we were up 2-0. It kind of feels like a loss to give up that lead at home but I like that system for sure.”
Taylor said of what the team can take away from tonight’s match, “Well, unfortunately we didn’t get the three points, which is a little bit frustrating. I still think that there’s a lot of stuff for us to build on and that we improved from our first game. We can definitely still build off of this.”
Diskerud said of the team’s chemistry, “Well, obviously when you are winning games it’s a lot of fun but there’s good chemistry in the group and you can definitely see that, there’s a good vibe here for sure.”
Lopez, in his first season with NYC FC, said of the atmosphere inside of Yankee Stadium, “Well obviously, that whole atmosphere that fans created was amazing. We really loved the fact that they were so loud and into it for the whole match and we really appreciate that.”
Images from NYC FC opening day at Yankee Stadium: