BRONX | Khiry Shelton couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first-ever goal in Major League Soccer.
The New York City FC rookie forward found the back of the net in the 91st minute as the Club rallied from a two-goal deficit while down a man to tie the Chicago Fire 2-2 in front of a raucous crowd of 23,315 on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
New York City FC improves to 1-6-4 (7 points), while the Fire are now 3-5-1 (10 points).
Less than one minute after the fourth official signaled there would be a minimum of five minutes of stoppage time, Shelton and New York City FC turned a potential fifth-straight defeat into a well-deserved draw.
Captain David Villa slipped the ball to his left to Shelton who aimed toward the far post and slotted it home past a diving Sean Johnson.
"I think it was a great goal; fantastic pass by David," Shelton said. "I couldn’t be any happier. After I scored it I didn’t know what to do; I just froze. I’m happy about the result and effort from everybody tonight. We were down a man and two goals and we were able to come back from that. That shows as a team we can go forward from this and get better. We have to keep pushing and keep working."
"I've been in Khiry’s shoes so I can say this with a lot of clarity and belief that that goal can put him to the next level," New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis said. "That’s what he needed. He needed a goal. He certainly didn’t create that goal, but he finished it. It’s going to do a lot for his confidence.
"The entire team was really willing to do anything tonight to get us that result. That’s incredibly important. It’s one of the more special moments in my coaching career to be honest."
The evening began as a potential repeat performance when the two sides met in Chicago on April 24. New York City FC gave up the first goal in both matches and was limited to 10 men early in the first half. On Friday, defender RJ Allen was pickpocketed by David Accam, but his tackle from behind on the Designated Player in the box resulted in a penalty kick and ejection in the 26th minute.
Jeff Larentowicz buried home the kick to give the visitors a two-goal advantage one minute later.
Unlike the 1-0 defeat at Toyota Park less than a month ago, New York City FC found not just one answer, but two.
The first came on the cusp of halftime.
Villa showed lovely control on a ball over the top before rifling an attempt from outside of the box on net. Johnson made the save but it went into a dangerous area as Mehdi Ballouchy put home the rebound in the 45th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1 at halftime.
"I think the timing of it was great," said Ballouchy, who leads the team with three goals. "Being 2-0 down and scoring right before halftime is always awesome because then you can come in, get together, have a chat and get back out there and try to get that second goal."
New York City FC came out the stronger side in the second half, pressuring Johnson and the Chicago back line.
In the 66th, defender Jeb Brovsky rushed onto a ball near the touchline and served up a cross to Villa, who controlled the pass and fired a shot on target. Villa had another opportunity to equalize four minutes later, but was tackled by Lovel Palmer was he was about to shoot and Johnson was able to gobble up the ball.
Chicago appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute, but Shaun Maloney was called offsides.
The visitors broke the deadlock in the 14th with the Designated Player involved again. His cross from the left side was headed home by Razvan Cocis for a one-goal lead.
"We’re happy with 2-2," Ballouchy said. "Most of the time I wouldn’t say that, but being 2-0 down and a man down, it’s a great result."
New York City FC head west for a match against head coach Jason Kreis’ former team, Real Salt Lake, on Saturday, May 23. Kickoff from Rio Tinto Stadium is 10 p.m. EDT. The game will be broadcast on YES, WFAN and WADO.