New York City Football Club Goals: Martins 40', 69', Pereira 88'
St. Louis City SC Goals: Watts 10', Vassilev 34', Lowen 89'
New York City Football Club's Coachella Valley Invitational campaign kicked off with a remarkable 3-3 draw against St. Louis City SC.
A Thiago Martins brace and Gabriel Pereira strike looked to have completed a sensational last-gasp comeback win for the Boys in Blue, after Akil Watts and Indiana Vassilev had handed St. Louis a two-goal lead - but Eduard Lowen struck late on to salvage a tie in a thrilling contest.
The encounter saw Nick Cushing's side lock horns with the MLS's newest expansion team for the first time, ahead of the 2023 MLS season.
Cushing named a strong starting XI of First Team regulars - with Pereira making his first appearance of the year - and once again rotated the minutes around the roster, as preparations for the new campaign stepped up.
NYCFC started the game brightly, dominating the early possession and pressing high, but it would be St Louis who drew first blood, as Watts fired in from distance.
The lead was doubled shortly after the half-hour mark when Vassilev converted from the spot, after Isak Jensen had been upended.
City responded well, pressing for a route back into the game with a series of set-pieces, and a free-kick struck gold five minutes before the break with Martins directing Andres Jasson's delivery home, after Maxime Chanot and Keaton Parks had done well to keep the chance alive.
Both sides enjoyed spells of possession in the early exchanges of the second period, probing for the right moment to mount an attack.
Kevin O'Toole produced a crucial goalline clearance to prevent St Louis from restoring their two-goal advantage, and City made it count, equalizing midway through the second half with another set-piece.
This one arrived courtesy of a corner, flicked on by Keaton Parks and finished off by Martins for his second of the game.
With the momentum, NYCFC pushed for a late winner, upping the intensity. Talles Magno saw a header well-saved, before Pereira thought he had snatched victory with just two minutes of normal time left to play.
Collecting O'Toole's throw-in, Talles Magno released Thiago Andrade with a neat through-ball. The ball was squared to Matías Pellegrini, who then found Pereira, and the Brazilian jinked a yard of space before curling beautifully into the bottom corner.
There was further drama to come however, as St Louis mounted an instant response, levelling late on through Lowen to complete the scoring in another entertaining and useful contest for Cushing's side.
NYCFC XI: Barraza; O'Toole, Chanot, Martins, Gray; Morales, Haak, Parks; Magno, Andrade, Jasson.
NYCFC will kick off the 2023 MLS season on Feb. 25 when we visit Nashville SC at GEODIS Park (4:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).