Miscues Prove Costly As NYCFC Crash Out Of Playoffs

New York City FC defender Ronald Matarrita reacts during the second half against Toronto FC at CitiField. Photo: Brad Penner, USA Today Sports

A poor first half and two egregious defensive mistakes in the second half were the difference as New York City FC (NYCFC) lost to Toronto FC 2-1 Wednesday night at Citi Field.

The loss in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference semi-finals is an abrupt end to New York City’s successful regular season. 

“In a game where we had everything to play for, we just weren’t good enough today,” said Sean Johnson, NYCFC’s goalkeeper. “We didn’t show up with the right energy, the right focus, and mistakes happen but I think it was a collective. In big games and big moments, we’ve gotta show up and at the end of the game, when it comes to the playoffs, we have to show up.”

After playing a shaky first 45 minutes in which Toronto controlled play throughout, the home side came out of the locker room after halftime looking to take control of the game.

But things quickly turned sour for New York City after halftime. In the 47th minute, an attempt by defender Maxime Chanot to head a ball back to Johnson fell well-short of the keeper. Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo pounced on the ball and easily beat Johnson for a 1-0 lead.

Ironically, conceding the goal proved to be a wake-up call for New York City. Turning up the pressure on Toronto, NYCFC would have a handful of chances but were unable to get a goal. 

In the 69th minute, the equalizer would come when Ismael Tajouri-Shradi would score off the half-volley to level the match at one.

With the match looking as if it was headed to extra-time, Ronald Matarrita would take down Richie Laryea inside the NYCFC box, leading to a penalty kick. Pozuelo would calmly step up to the spot and chip a shot down the center for the game-winner. 

“We weren’t good enough, it was a tight game, maybe they were a little bit better in the first half and we were way better than them in the second half,” said Anton Tinnerholm, NYCFC’s defender. “We gave them two goals, then it’s hard to win some football games, they scored on their chances and we didn’t. It’s devastating, it’s hard to put my feelings into words, it’s really disappointing.”