A night of forgettable football resulted in a three-point Conference lead for first place NYCFC Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as they drew 1-1 with Toronto FC. Despite the lackluster performance from both clubs, the game started and ended with a bit of excitement.
Alexandru Mitrita opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a howler of a free kick that was later canceled out by a Toronto penalty shot. But controversy became the focal point of the match as a bloodied Taty Castellanos was not awarded a penalty in the final minute of extra-time. When asked what he thought of that final play, he answered with one word, “Penalty”.
“It’s a penalty, the referee got confused” said a clearly frustrated Castellanos “he told me I committed the foul first, but he got that one wrong”
A Bronx audience that had been silent for most of regulation became instantly hostile, as boos and profanities rained down on the referees and the game was whistled dead. But the man captaining this ship kept things in perspective, as coach Torrent said following the draw that “in the last 6 games of 18 points we got 16 points. That is the reason now that we are in the top of the league [Eastern Conference]”
Man of the match Sean Johnson, who provided massive cover for the makeshift back line that included a penalty save, turned the page on the game and looked forward to their next challenge. “To come out of the game continuing our unbeaten run is important” said Johnson “especially going into the weekend against San Jose.”
The San Jose Quakes will arrive in the Bronx led by River Plate legend and now manager Matias Almeyda, who has his squad sporting the only man marking set piece defense in the league. This will prove an exhausting challenge for the depleted Blues roster, but one made easier with MLS assist leader Maxi Morales returning to the lineup Saturday.
“No one can replace Maxi” said midfielder Tony Rocha “he is leading the MLS in assists, we’re always going to miss that.”
Well they won’t be missing that come Saturday afternoon, as the Pigeons of New York will try and widen their lead on the second place Philadelphia Union by adding another three points.
But despite recently not playing their usual brand of dominating football, NYCFC have proved yet again they are more than the sum of their parts, they are a contender no matter who is in the starting eleven. The facts get no sweeter than that with only five games remaining on a already historic club season.
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