Atlanta United’s 2-2 draw against Toronto FC could have very well been seen as a gift for New York City FC. With two games in hand, NYCFC trailed the Five Stripes by five points and could have overtaken them with wins against both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto.
Unfortunately, City were unable to capitalize on the golden opportunity given to them. Despite taking a 2-1 lead immediately after the opening whistle in the second half and continued pressure on the opposition’s backline, NYCFC coughed up the lead late, allowing Vancouver to enjoy a share of the spoils.
From opening whistle, the Blues looked threatening. Jo Inge Berget was the first player to receive a golden opportunity following a pinpoint cross from Maxi Moralez. Unfortunately, the Norweigan’s header could not get past a diving Stefan Marinovic who made a spectacular save.
Despite continued offensive pressure, it would be the Whitecaps who struck first.
Nicolas Mezquida found himself with tons of space at the top of the box after a counter-attack. With no one on NYCFC willing to close the space, Mezquida ripped a low-driven shot far post which got past goalkeeper Brad Stuver, giving Vancouver the 1-0 lead.
NYCFC would finally get their goal in the first minute of stoppage time in the first half. Anton Tinenrholm found himself on the byline before dishing it centrally to Jesus Medina. After a class first touch around a defender, the Paraguayan fired it right-footed through Marinovic’s five hole, leveling the game at the death of the half.
Going into the second half, NYCFC immediately made an impact. Berget, utilizing his signature holdup skills, took a touch in space out left before letting off a low cross. The centered ball found found the foot of newcomer Valentin Castellanos, who’s sliding attempt pushed the ball into the goal giving City a 2-1 advantage that seemed deserved.
After pulling ahead of the Caps, NYCFC seemed poised to seal the victory. They continued to press Vancouver’s defense and fire in dangerous passes and shots alike.
But City payed for their wastefulness.
In the 87th minute, Vancouver once again found themselves on a counter in which the Blues were napping. A well-aimed cross found the head of Erik Hurtado who was able to convert the point blank chance to level the game late.
Five minutes of stoppage time weren’t enough for a frustrated NYCFC, and the game came to an end 2-2.
City will have one last chance to partially close the gap between them and Atlanta next weekend when they face Toronto FC in Canada on August 14. Here’s hoping they don’t blow it this time.