New York City FC were held to a 2-2 draw by the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night in the Bronx.
Here’s Five Things we learned…
There’s no question that this was a missed opportunity for the Boys in Blue with this one coming hot on the heels from Atlanta’s 2-2 draw vs. Toronto.
With Toronto scoring in stoppage-time to secure a point against the current MLS Supporters’ Shield leaders, it felt like the stars were aligning for NYCFC to take top spot into their own hands, especially when Valentin Castellanos piled in the go-ahead goal on 46’ in the BX.
Sadly, there was a twist remaining on the night as the Whitecaps found the equalizer through Hurtado on a rare foray into the New York half with just three minutes of normal time remaining.
Still, the home faithful never missed a beat, continuing to roar on the home side but any late rally was halted by some understandable, but no less maddening, gamesmanship from the visitors as they saw out five minutes of stoppage-time nursing injuries which seemed to magically heel outside of the field of play.
A frustrating end to a night which had looked so promising for the majority of the second half.
Taty's Dream Start
For 40 second half minutes, it looked like Valentin “Taty” Castellanos was going to go into his second full week as an NYCFC player with a winning goal on his debut.
While a late equalizer is always going to sting, the Argentine can still reflect on a supremely impressive debut for his new club, with his goal only telling part of the story.
The 19-year acquitted himself well on the wing in support of Jo Inge Berget and looked like a natural fit in that fleet-footed frontline, combining beautifully with his compatriot Maxi Moralez on a couple of occasions.
A great start to build on.
Jesus on the Rise
The other goalscorer on the night was another South American forward who had already marked his debut with a goal in March.
Jesus Medina netted his fourth goal in five games and secured the Heineken Star of the Match honors after another dazzling performance between the lines.
The Paraguayan started in the no.10 role in a slightly more advanced position to Moralez and picked up those chief architect responsibilities with distinction, wreaking havoc on the Whitecaps defense throughout the 90’.
Another really strong showing from our first Young DP, who seems to grow in influence with each passing week.
Two men who missed most of the fun in July also made their presences known in this clash.
Jo Inge Berget and Isi Tajouri-Shradi are both coming back off different month-long injuries at roughly the same time and both were excellent vs. Vancouver.
The duo were similarly hot before their lay-offs and were clearly eager to make up for lost time on Saturday, though neither were quite ready to complete the 90’.
Tajouri-Shradi was unfortunate not to edge out alone as NYCFC’s top-scorer with a ninth goal of the season with a couple of great efforts and he was also heavily involved in the first goal, while Berget was a handful for the Vancouver defense all night and was at the heart of most of the home team’s best moves.
With another 60+ minutes in the legs each, Berget and Tajouri-Shradi should be close to 100% when City arrives in Canada next week.
Back on the Road
Now it’s all about NYCFC getting up for back-to-back away matches at Toronto and Philadelphia up next.
City haven’t had much joy at BMO Field in recent visits but, with the aforementioned forwards fit and firing, plus the potential return of David Villa, there are plenty of reasons for Dome and the boys to approach a game vs. the reigning champions with optimism.