BRONX | Frank Lampard scored his first goal for New York City FC and Patrick Mullins scored for the second straight match as New York City FC beat Toronto FC 2-0 to earn a crucial three points as the race for the Major League Soccer playoffs heats up in front of 25,075 on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
New York City FC snap a three-match losing streak and improve to 8-14-7 (31 points), while Toronto FC fall to 11-13-4 (37 points).
The Club is 2-0-1 in three regular-season matches against Toronto FC.
"It’s great to get off the mark," Lampard said. "I had a tough start with injuries, but I’m getting fitter and hopefully more goals to come. It’s been frustrating for me. No one is more frustrated than the player himself. I want to give back. I want to show people what I can do. It’s a goal.
"I’ll get fitter and there will be more goals I hope. For me personally it was nice and for the team to win it is nice. Very important to get back on the winning track and important again on Saturday.”
In the 20th minute, midfielder Andrea Pirlo played a dangerous ball over the top of the defense to an on-rushing RJ Allen. The right back slid in an effort to keep the ball in play near the byline and flicked it backwards to Lampard at the top of the 18-yard box. The Designated Player controlled the ball and fired home a shot into the low far corner for a 1-0 advantage.
Lampard, who holds the record for most English Premier League clubs scored against, added his first MLS team to his extensive list with his first goal in a New York City FC jersey. The midfielder stood in the Toronto FC box with both arms held proudly in the air.
That goal was the difference at halftime as New York City FC held a 1-0 lead.
The two Eastern Conference teams exchanged opportunities in the second half. Toronto FC, which are winless in their last seven road matches, had a pair of Sebastian Giovinco free kicks saved by goalkeeper Josh Saunders in the 60th and 62nd minutes.
The veteran shot-stopper had seven saves in the Club’s first clean sheet since June 20.
"It’s a confidence builder because it’s one of those things that can be a momentum builder as well," Saunders said. "It’s huge because this is a massive time for us get some results so getting a clean sheet and a win is huge."
Added head coach Jason Kreis: "That’s the biggest thing tonight apart from the three points. To get a shutout was critical for us against a team that is very good in the attacking half of the field."
Saunders was at his best again less than 10 minutes later with two emphatic saves on Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley. Bradley fired a shot from distance in the 70th minute that Saunders pushed away, but the rebound fell back to the United States National Team captain, who rocketed another shot at the goalkeeper once more.
New York City FC had a pair of opportunities at the other end five minutes later off corner kicks, capitalizing on the second chance.
Pirlo curled an enticing ball around the 6-yard box that Mullins, who leapt above a horde of Toronto FC defenders and smashed it home for a 2-0 lead in the 74th.
"I didn’t do much movement," said Mullins, who scored his sixth of the season. "I kind of put myself in a good spot and the guy taking the kick obviously puts it in a good spot. I jumped up and headed it in. That’s it, to be honest.
"It felt more rewarding getting three points in the business end of the year."
New York City FC look to keep the momentum in their favor on Saturday against San Jose. Kickoff is 7 p.m. ET from Yankee Stadium (YES Network, WFAN, WADO).