NYCFC Goals: Villa 18mins & 45mins
Columbus Goals: Kamara 11mins, Williams 58mins
A Quick Look
New York City FC clinched the Eastern Conference’s second seed for the second year in a row thanks to a 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew SC.
David Villa scored two first half goals to cancel out Ola Kamara’s 11th minute opener before former Blue Josh Williams levelled for the visitors, rounding off the scoring.
Villa missed a penalty in stoppage-time which would have sealed the seeding outright but Sebastian Giovinco's equalizer for Toronto at Atlanta, as well as Chicago's defeat at Houston, stopped the Boys in Blue from being passed.
Yankee Stadium will host the Eastern Conference semifinal second leg on November 5 and tickets will be available from this coming Wednesday at 10am.
Entering Decision Day with destiny in their own hands, NYCFC knew that a win would secure the bye to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Any less than that and favors would be required from elsewhere on a full slate of final day action kicking off simultaneously up and down the country.
On a beautiful Fall day in Queens, the 20,113 fans present were treated to a wild start, with Columbus and NYC trading goals inside the first 20 minutes.
The Boys in Blue had made a bright start to the match, dominating the possession and chance count, but it was the visitors who seized the early initiative on 11’.
Catching the home team up the field, Federico fed Ola Kamara who finished clinically into the far corner, past the onrushing Sean Johnson.
That lead would last just seven minutes and it was the captain who made himself at home at Citi Field, stealing in at the near post to thump home his header from a Maxi Moralez corner.
It was Villa’s 21st goal of the Regular Season and the dab celebration was earned.
Jack Harrison was a lively presence in the opening exchanges and he almost put his team ahead for the first time in the match when he slalomed inside and out before letting rip with his right foot but it just flew over the bar.
Just when it looked as though the teams would be going in level at the break, Villa poured in his second of the day, beating Zack Steffen at his near post, putting NYC ahead and yes, leading to another dab celebration.
2-1 to the good at the break, NYC were holding off Atlanta who also held a narrow lead vs. Toronto but there was a further twist in store on the hour mark.
Despite the continued domination from Vieira’s men, it was Columbus who scored the game’s fourth goal as Williams rose highest to nod in Higuain’s corner, making it 2-2.
Toronto’s equalizer vs. Atlanta and Chicago’s deficit vs. Houston still had NYC in second but that was almost snatched away when a Crew corner almost bounced in but there was Frederic Brillant to make a heroic save with his head.
At the other end, only a magnificent save from Steffen denied Villa his hat-trick after Rodney Wallace found El Guaje and the Spaniard delivered the acrobatic effort.
Heading into the final ten minutes, Atlanta retook the lead, meaning NYCFC needed a late goal to clinch the bye and they had a golden opportunity to get it from the penalty spot after a VAR-assisted award for Steffen’s foul on Moralez.
Villa stepped up for his hat-trick but there was the Columbus ‘keeper to make the vital stop that would have forced NYC into the Knockout Round game, if not for Giovinco’s brilliant equalizer in Atlanta.
It didn't matter, as for the second year in a row, the Boys in Blue clinched second place in the third year of the club’s existence.
Sean Johnson has made more difficult saves this season than his one in stoppage-time but it could have been the most important one of the Regular Season.
Although the shot was straight at him, the pressure was on and his handling needed to be on point. Fortunately for the home side, it was, and NYCFC held on to take the point they needed.
Man of the Match
He may have missed the chance to get his second hat-trick for the club from the penalty spot but El Guaje was a pivotal figure for his team, scoring twice.
Social Post of the Game
Stats and Milestones
- NYCFC finish the Regular Season with a 16-9-9 record
- NYCFC ends the season with a club-high 57 points.
- Jack Harrison started his 50th Regular Season game for NYCFC
- David Villa scored his 21st and 22nd goals of the season
- NYCFC finish in second place for the second consecutive year
How They Lined Up
Patrick Vieira made two changes to his lineup for the final Regular Season game, bringing in Ethan White and Maxi Moralez.
NYCFC XI: Johnson, White, Brillant, Callens, Sweat, Herrera, Ring, Moralez, Wallace, Harrison, Villa (C)
NYCFC Subs: Johansen, Matarrita, Struna, Pirlo, McNamara, Shelton, Lewis
NYCFC await events in the Knockout Round of the MLS Playoffs before finding out who will oppose them in the Eastern Conference semifinals.