David Villa put the team on his back Sunday afternoon, as New York City FC were able to hold on for the 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew. At the end of Decision Day 2017, NYCFC stand as the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed for the second consecutive season.
More than 20,000 fans were on hand for the back-and-forth affair at Citifield in Flushing, Queens. The team’s usual venue — Yankee Stadium — was unavailable as the Yankees made their way to the American League Championship Series. With the Yankees’ playoff run over, however, NYCFC now prepare for a run of their own.
The Crew’s Ola Kamara started the scoring Sunday with a strike in the 11th minute, but Villa was able to even the score shortly thereafter with a blustering header off of a Maxi Moralez corner. Then, just before halftime, Villa struck again, taking advantage of a defending mistake by Columbus’ Harrison Afful that could be best described by the defender’s own last name.
The lead would be short-lived, though. Thirteen minutes into the second half, former NYCFC defender Josh Williams redirected a corner from Federico Higuain past Sean Johnson to level the score.
That would prove to be the day’s last goal, Villa’s continuous effort notwithstanding. The reigning — and perhaps future — MVP had a few prime opportunities saved in the final 30 minutes, including a penalty in extra time. The Spaniard ended the regular season with 22 goals for New York City, his second straight season surpassing the 20-goal mark.
With the draw, Columbus ends the year as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on No. 4 Atlanta United in the Knockout Round. Chicago Fire finish as the No. 3 seed and will face the No. 6 New York Red Bulls. The No. 1 seed Toronto FC end the year 12 points clear of NYCFC, setting the MLS single season points record with 69. Nicely done, Toronto.
In the West, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders — last year’s champions — earned the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively. The Vancouver Whitecaps, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City and San Jose Earthquakes round out the West’s top-six.
The first leg of NYCFC’s semifinal matchup will take place either October 30 or 31 on the road. Leg 2 will be on November 5, back in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium. Tickets for that fixture will go on sale at 10 a.m. this Wednesday.