NYC FC moved into first place in the Eastern Conference and they extended their unbeaten streak to four games with a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
This completed a road trip in which NYC FC got two wins and a tie, and they now have 17 points (4-5-3), one more than Montreal for the top spot.
They are entering the Hudson River Derby against the Red Bulls on Saturday at Yankee Stadium with some real momentum.
This was impressive for NYC FC to get a point in this one, as they had just won in Portland in Sunday night and a lot of starters, such as David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, were held out of the starting lineup to get them some rest ahead of the battle with the Red Bulls Saturday.
Kwadwo Poku scored his first goal of the season in the first half as New York City FC extended its unbeaten streak to a franchise-best five matches with a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC Wednesday night at BMO Field.
Poku’s goal put NYCFC in front in the 16th minute. Patrick Mullins got a head on a Steven Mendoza cross from the right and the ball landed at Poku’s feet. He took two touches into the box before curling a shot into the side netting to give NYCFC the lead.
It came just after Josh Saunders robbed Sebastian Giovinco on a breakaway.
TFC leveled three minutes before halftime when Josh Williams latched onto a cross from Mo Babouli, who slid the ball to Will Johnson, who easily tapped in after Saunders challenged the back-post cross.
Toronto FC threatened in first-half stoppage time, but Saunders dived to his right to get a right hand on a Giovinco free kick.
David Villa nearly pulled off some late magic with a lob from 30 yards that landed on the top netting in second-half stoppage time.
NYC FC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of how he thought his team played, “I think we didn’t play our best game but when you make so many changes, and I knew that it would be quite difficult because we played against one of the best sides in the league. When we make changes and players don’t play enough it is always difficult. So I knew that we were going to go through a difficult period during the game but I think that we managed it quite well, we didn’t concede too much and we didn’t create much as well. So I think the draw is a fair point for both teams.”
Vieira said of what he saw from Poku and Mullins and of his changes to the starting lineup, “They did well. I was expecting them to work hard and I knew that physically it would be difficult for them because they didn’t have the rhythm of the game, because they didn’t play so much during the season, but I was really pleased, especially with Patrick, it wasn’t easy for him and a number 9 to do what I asked but he put his head up and he worked hard for the team and I was really pleased with his performance.
On Josh Saunders’ performance in goal, Vieira said, “Since the beginning of the season Josh has made some really important saves during games and we are doing well and he is playing a big part in us winning games and taking points away. His form has been fantastic for us.”
NYC FC forward Patrick Mullins said of the game, “I felt we came out very strong, we showed that even if it was a new lineup for us that we kept our cohesion together, we kept with our same principles that we wanted play. Obviously we got out to an early lead and I think we worked hard defensively after that to protect it. I’m a little disappointed to give up the goal, we could have done better, but overall we’ve got to be happy with how we fought for each other. You come in against a top team in the league and you get a point with a brand new lineup from the weekend, I feel pretty happy about that.”
Mullins said of defending against defending MVP Sebastian Giovinco, “Obviously you are aware of him because of who he is and what he brings to the game but I think our overall principles of how we want to defend is to force everything wide and not let anything easy into the middle for him to feed off of and I think it was difficult for him to get a rhythm. I think if you take a player out of their rhythm, even the best in the world struggle to get back into the game but obviously he had some bright moments as well tonight.”
On the team’s travel, Mullins said, “It’s something you have to deal with in this league and the guys on this team that have been in this league for a while know what it’s about. The guys who were with us last year and it was their first time in the league, I think they are getting used to it. I think we handled it just as well as you could have expected. You have a full roster for these specific types of trips and make sure you are ready to step in when your number is called.”
NYC FC midfielder Mix Diskerud said of the game, “The last 30 minutes of this game I could kind of feel the travel with the game that we had a couple days ago, but we are soccer players and we love playing games, that is much more fun than training all the time. So I enjoy it. It’s difficult to play here; I think in the end we are happy with the one point. They’re a good team, a playoff team. We had our chances and they had theirs, I think it was an entertaining game for the crowd. We’re happy with that one point and now we’re going to focus on the next game, it’s going to be a huge game and hopefully we can fill up the stadium and win that game.”