Lead and Points: NYCFC Got A Game Changer


Santiago Rodriguez with a nice level kick early in the first half got NYCFC an early goal in the first half, his second goal of the season that tied the score after Toronto got it in the net first at the seven minute mark. And in the 64th minute at Yankee Stadium Saturday evening, Kevin O’Toole scored his first career MLS goal with a nifty header.

That goal was the game changer and difference maker as NYCFC, in their fourth match of the young season finally got three points with a 2-1 conference win over Toronto. Say this was a needed win, and it was because it was at home. More importantly, NYCFC got on the board early, their defense was exceptional, and a late goal broke the ice.

Is this win a difference maker after consecutive games in the Bronx? Last Saturday afternoon in their home opener, NYCFC and their loyal fan base suffered a blow when Portland, with a stoppage time goal in the seventh minute was a frustrating 2-1 blow to NYCFC and their loyal fan base.

For certain there was a better feeling about this team and consistency here is the focus. NYCFC heads to Cincinnati and opposes Lionel Messi down in Miami for consecutive games before returning home to Citi Field in three weeks. Yes, it’s early but coach Nick Cushing has said wins and three points in the standings are significant at this juncture of their schedule.

It’s critical for confidence when you play really well for 45 minutes, and you let the result slip away at home, which is not something we’ve done regularly,” Cushing said about the outcome of last week. “It’s painful. It’s our home in front of the fans.”

Though not painful for this one in front of 18,623 who cheered that decisive goal. One week before there was that mood of how many more dismal outcomes were headed for this young team that also struggled to score goals last year that were detrimental and caused NYCFC to come up short in their quest to reach the MLS playoffs for the Cup.

But, we soaked up too much pressure against Portland and we’re a team that plays our best football with intensity and on the front foot,” Cushing said. “You saw that tonight. So it gives confidence, it’s payback for good work and it reinforces the process. When you enjoy it and you win, you have to go through the process. That’s what we’ll continue to do going into two difficult road games.”

Despite those previous setbacks the process of intense training during this was obviously on display during 90 minutes or more when counting stoppage time. There was intensity and development with the offense as NYCFC continued the attack, and if not for Toronto keeper Luke Gavran making seven saves, the game could have been determined by a wider margin.

In boxing terms, it was NYCFC going for the knockout from the first round. Cushing had his team ready, not that intensity is never shown during a weekly practice preparation for an upcoming match. But his players responded from whatever was done during the week.

I think it was a meaningful win,” said NYCFC keeper Matt Freese who made two significant stops that assured their first three points of the season. “We’re excited about it. It’s one win. We’re a young group, and it’s important for us to not get ahead of ourselves with one win. Nick (Cushing) said it to us, and I think we all agree that we needed that one win to really get us going. Now is the time to continue that and just go on a run.”

He said, “And if not a run, then just make the room whenever we’re in this building and as many times as we can. We are always alert when leading. That was something we lacked last week. It’s a meaningful win, but it needs to be the norm for us to have that type of focus whether it is 90 or 112 minutes.”

To Cushing, this win is a move for more, again with a tough two upcoming on the road. The results though will be a testament to the development that resulted against Toronto, coming home with six more points in the Eastern Conference standings.

The victory is really important for the team because they have a huge desire to win so it’s payback for the hard work,” Cushing said. I mean the hard work of looking at why we didn’t retain the three points last week, accepting it,and taking honest and respectful feedback. Where are we in the process? I think we’re further than people think.”

This win over Toronto they hope is a start of what Cushing and NYCFC envisioned.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com Rich Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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