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New York City FC 2, Toronto FC 2: Late penalty squelches Blues’ fightback

In a moment, three points became one

MLS: Toronto FC at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For the fifth time in their last six games, New York City FC conceded the opening goal. As they tend to do rather often, they fought back to take the lead. But a penalty conversion by Toronto’s Victor Vazquez in injury time ended things all square Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, 2-2.

An Ashtone Morgan volley opened the scoring for the heavily-rotated visitors, who nearly made it to the halftime break with the advantage despite the thrust of the run of play, which favored the close-but-not-quite Blues. Toronto would suffer a massive setback in the 39th minute, however, when star man Sebastian Giovinco picked up an injury and couldn’t continue.

The worse-case scenario would be ever-so-suddenly realized for the Canadian side: just eight minutes later, David Villa bagged the equalizer for NYCFC with the last kick of the first half.

New York City, which benefited from the return of goalkeeper Sean Johnson from Gold Cup duty and midfielders Yangel Herrera and Maxi Moralez from injury, looked the stronger side out of the gate in the second half. Come the 56th minute, they were fairly in dreamland thanks to some gorgeous one-two between Villa and Moralez:

This is the strange truth of New York City FC: concede an opening goal early, then score two and take the lead. Does it make sense? Hell to the no. Is it encouraging in its own bizarre, inexplicable way? It sure is.

This time, however, unlike the series of spirited fightbacks that allowed the Blues to go undefeated in June, they just couldn’t seal the deal.

Patrick Vieira made two defensive-oriented substitutions down the stretch, and New York City suffered for it. For the entirety of the final twenty minutes — excepting a golden chance that found Yangel Herrera one on one with Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono to no avail — Toronto brought the pressure and had the hosts squarely on their back foot. It was a troubling, uncomfortable affair to watch; as everyone knows, the prevent defense never works. Ever.

And in stoppage time, Toronto’s relentlessness would be awarded with a penalty chance after RJ Allen was determined to have fouled Jordan Hamilton in the box.

Goal. 2-2. That was that: a draw that feels like a loss.

Next up for New York City: A quick turnaround as the Chicago Fire come to the Bronx this Saturday. The match kicks off at 2:00pm ET and will be televised on YES.