New York City goals: Gabriel Pereira 42'
FC Cincinnati goals: Thiago Martins (OG) 22'
New York City Football Club were held to a 1-1 draw at home to FC Cincinnati. Gabriel Pereira's seventh goal of the season rescued a point for the Boys in Blue, after Thiago Martins' own-goal had handed the visitors the lead against the run of play. Martins was also shown a red card late on, with a penalty awarded and then overturned, on a dramatic night in Queens.
With the regular season nearing its exciting conclusion, both sides headed into the clash desperate for points in the fight for playoff places.
Interim Head Coach Nick Cushing made five changes to the side that travelled to New England Revolution on Sunday, welcoming back Alex Callens, Martins, Malte Amundsen, Gabriel Pereira and Talles Magno in place of Thiago, Andres Jasson, Vuk Latinovich, Justin Haak and Héber. Keaton Parks also returned to the bench following his lengthy lay-off.
Cushing had spoken of the team's hunger to stop the rot of successive defeats and produce a much-improved level of performance for the fans at Citi Field, and the home side came flying out of the blocks.
Eager for an early advantage, City lay siege to the Cincinnati goal. Callens almost marked his return with an instant impact, looking to latch onto Tayvon Gray’s deflected shot, while Talles Magno headed off-target and Santiago Rodríguez smashed over from distance
There was a heart-in-mouth moment at the other end on the quarter-hour mark, as Brandon Vazquez bypassed the hosts’ defense on the counter-attack and was upended by Callens, but the Cincinnati man had strayed offside.
The visitors would take the lead however with a stroke of fortune, as Martins’ backpass rolled past Sean Johnson and into the back of the net, despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts.
Befitting of the captain's armband, Johnson rallied the troops and New York mounted an excellent response, stepping up a gear to force Roman Celentano into action, as Nico Acevedo, Talles, Callens and Rodríguez all went close before the half-hour.
Maxi Moralez then unleashed a powerful effort which whistled past the far corner before the Boys in Blue finally smashed down the door to level before halftime, as Pereira nodded home Gray’s pinpoint delivery at the nearpost with three minutes of the opening 45 to play.
With the momentum, Cushing’s side sought to turn the game on its head before the break but Acevedo and Pereira both drilled straight at Celentano.
The hosts continued to push after the restart, though goalmouth action proved harder to come by.
Moralez curled an effort wide from range before Héber was brought on with 20 minutes to go. The Forward's introduction almost had an immediate effect, as he rattled the crossbar with a superb turn and shot, and headed just wide from the resulting corner.
There was more frustration to come when Martins' night went from bad to worse with just under 15 minutes to go, as he was dismissed for thwarting Sergio Santos' route to goal. Though a penalty was initially awarded, VAR indicated the foul had been committed just outside the area, though the red card still stood.
Johnson parried away Álvaro Barreal's free-kick - Cincinnati's first shot on target in the game - and though both sides pressed for a late winner, the spoils were shared at Citi Field.
Player of the Match
How We Lined Up
New York City are back in action on Saturday, 10 September, traveling to Charlotte in a 1:00PM ET kickoff at Bank of America Stadium. (ESPN+/YES app/NYCFC.com/Radio)