New York City FC Goals: Castellanos 53’
Philadelphia Union Goals: Przybyłko 26’
It was Decision Day in the Bronx and New York City FC were aiming to secure home-field advantage with a good result against Philadelphia Union on Sunday. A feisty affair saw a first-half red card for Gedion Zelalem followed by a goal for Kacper Przybyłko. That was canceled out in the 53rd minute by a fantastic header from Taty Castellanos. A breathless second half saw both teams create good chances, but in the end, they could not be separated and shared the spoils. That result helped NYCFC secure fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and with it a First Round home game in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs against Atlanta United.
New York City FC were hoping for a positive Decision Day against Philadelphia Union, as they sought to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Head Coach Ronny Deila made one change to the XI that beat Inter Miami on the road last weekend, with Gedion Zelalem replacing the injured Keaton Parks.
The hosts started the game with their typical intensity and allowed the Union little time to settle into the game. Leading the charge for NYCFC was Taty Castellanos, who went into the day leading the race for the Golden Boot. He earned his first look at goal via a header from a corner nine minutes in.
At the other end, a lofted pass into the box from the left allowed Kacper Przybyłko to cushion the ball into the path of the onrushing Daniel Gazdag, but his effort curled wide.
The game was turned on its head in the 23rd minute when Zelalem was sent off for a late tackle on Leon Flach that was upgraded to a red card after consultation with the Video Assistant Referee.
The Union would make the most of their man advantage in the 26th minute when an overhit cross was rescued by Flach and steered back across goal into the path of an unmarked Przybyłko to tap home.
It was almost two in the 35th minute when a low cross evaded everyone and rolled into the path of Flach. Thankfully the 20-year-old was unable to make contact with the ball and that allowed NYCFC to clear the danger.
The Boys in Blue continued to try and engineer a route back into the game, and in the 40th minute, a freekick from Maxi Moralez allowed Maxime Chanot to head the ball just wide of the goal.
NYCFC started the second period full of confidence, and that almost resulted in an audacious equalizer in the 49th minute when Alfredo Morales flicked a Moralez corner towards goal with his heel.
The momentum was now firmly with the hosts, and their hard work was rewarded in the 53rd minute when a deep cross from Moralez allowed Taty Castellanos to rise high and power a header home.
Not content with one, NYCFC continued to push, and on the hour mark, Jesús Medina got on the end of a Castellanos knockdown to force Andre Blake into a fantastic point-blank save.
Keen to grab hold of the game, the Union attempted to control possession and make the most of their man advantage. That saw Jim Curtin's side create several breakaway opportunities that tested NYCFC's defensive resolve.
With 10 minutes to go a sharp turn by Jamiro Monteiro on the edge of the box allowed the Cape Verdean international to attempt a curled effort, but it was comfortably saved by Sean Johnson. That was followed by another smart save from Johnson minutes later to deny Paxten Aaronson.
The players were squeezing every ounce of energy into the game and in the 88th minute Ronny Deila opted to introduce fresh legs in the form of Tayvon Gray - the young defender entering the field in place of Santiago Rodríguez.
In the end, Castellanos' header would prove to be the final goal of the game and force both sides to share the spoils. With that result, NYCFC clinched a home game in the First Round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs against Atlanta United at a time to be confirmed.