NYCFC Goals: Villa 45', Moralez 56'
Toronto FC Goals: Morgan 11', Vazquez 90'
A Quick Look
NYCFC weren't quite able to get the win they desired coming out of the international break. A 90th minute penalty saw Toronto FC escape Yankee Stadium with a point, moving them up to the top spot in the Eastern Conference for now.
Maxi Moralez returned to the starting XI, scoring a very pretty goal to give NYCFC a lead that they very nearly hung onto all the way to the end.
NYCFC once again went down early, but fought back, only to be denied a win in the dying moments of the first match of their double game week.
Both teams came out eager to get back to their winning ways after the long Gold Cup layoff, resulting in a frenetic, faced-paced flow in the opening minutes of the match. An exchange of quick counterattacks resulted in half-chances at both ends, with neither team really being able to dominate possession.
An error from Toronto's goalkeeper nearly saw NYCFC take the lead nine minutes in, as Maxi Moralez stole the ball away from Alex Bono and created a chance. Luckily for Bono, Toronto's defenders were able to snuff out the danger.
Almost immediately after, Toronto answered NYCFC's probing attacks with a quick counter that resulted in the night's first goal.
Ashtone Morgan, filling in for Justin Morrow on the left side of Toronto's defense, got on the end of a cross at the corner of NYCFC's six-yard box and slotted the ball to the back post. For the second match in a row, NYCFC found themselves down a goal early on and searching for an equalizer.
They nearly got it in the 23rd minute, when a scramble in front of Toronto's goal—seemingly impossibly—failed to end up in the back of the net.
A dangerous Jack Harrison cross found the head of David Villa at the back post, who headed it back across goal to Tommy McNamara. Tommy brought the ball down, struck Alex Bono with a shot, chased down the rebound, and fired a low-angle shot off the post. It's hard to get more unlucky than that.
On the other end, a brilliant save from Sean Johnson denied Sebastian Giovinco's curling effort from outside the box in the 28th minute, keeping NYCFC afloat as they continued to mount attacks. That would be Giovinco's last action of the match, as he was subbed off with an injury soon after.
NYCFC's next big chance came in the 39th minute, when Jack Harrison chased down a long ball over the top and fired on goal, only to be thwarted once again by Bono.
Then, David Villa dropped the mic in first half stoppage time.
It was awesome.
NYCFC were nearly beaten again in the 49th minute, when Ben Spencer looked to have scored from close range at the back post. The goal was waved off after referee Ted Unkel and his assistant referee came to the conclusion that Spencer was offside.
Then it was Maxi Moralez's turn to make his mark on the match. In the 56th minute, Alexander Callens made a clutch tackle along the left sideline, played his way out of trouble, and sent a long ball up to David Villa, who teamed up with Maxi to work some absolute magic.
Just... just watch this.
Goodness gracious, it's extremely nice to have him back.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be a storybook ending for NYCFC on the night. Toronto found their equalizer by way of Victor Vazquez, who scored a 90th minute penalty kick. RJ Allen was judged to have dragged down a TFC attacker in the box, and Ted Unkel didn't hesitate to blow the whistle.
It's hard to argue against Maxi's excellent tally as the key moment for NYCFC tonight. The sublime build-up, the clinical finish, and—of course—the celebration of a long-awaited return to the starting XI with a goal.
The potential of this NYCFC attacking corps was on full display in the build-up to this goal. In just a few touches, the partnership of David Villa and Moralez sliced through the whole of Toronto's defense with some dazzling work on and off the ball. Maxi's finishing touch was the icing on the cake in his return to the starting lineup, despite a late Toronto goal depriving him of a best possible scenario.
Man of the Match
You can probably guess this one, folks.
That's right, it's Maxi Moralez. In addition to his game-winning goal, the attacking midfielder was everywhere, showing off his passing range, knack for finding space, and near-telepathic chemistry with his attacking partners. He continuously probed Toronto's back line with dangerous passes,
Social Post of the Game
We're still waiting...
Name a more iconic duo... we'll wait 💙 pic.twitter.com/eGhsaXctxq— New York City FC (@NYCFC) July 20, 2017
Stats and Milestones
- NYCFC remain in 3rd place, picking up a point at home against a Toronto side who are now in first place in the East.
- Maxi Moralez's goal was his third as an NYCFC player, while Villa's assist brings him to seven on the season.
- NYCFC is now 10-6-4 on the season, good for 34 points.
- NYCFC still have yet to lose to Toronto in regular season play.
- The all-time goal tally between these two sides in the regular season is now 22 goals through six games. You're pretty much guaranteed to see some scoring when these two teams play each other.
How They Lined Up
This match saw the return of Sean Johnson and Maxi Moralez to Patrick Vieira's starting XI. Those were the only two changes the gaffer made after NYCFC's last match before the international break, a 3-2 loss at Vancouver.
Toronto were without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore due to international duty, but still had their star man Sebastian Giovinco in the XI.
NYCFC will take on the Chicago Fire this Saturday, where they'll look to pick up a win against a side who have provisionally dropped into second place by virtue of Toronto picking up a point tonight. You can snag tickets to what will surely be a high-flying battle between two of the league's top teams right underneath this sentence.