I. Am. Tired!
I am so tired of seeing New York City FC get bounced out of the playoffs in the same round every year.
FOUR STRAIGHT YEARS! And with no indication that this type of choke job is behind us.
Here’s about as much as I’m going to say about this game. Because I’m getting sick just thinking about it.
NYCFC work their asses off to get homefield advantage and a first-round bye. As it turns out, there is no homefield advantage to be had. Why? Because the New York Yankees are in the playoffs.
Instead, we have to travel across town to face Toronto FC at the New York Mets’ Citi Field. In a win-or-go-home situation. This alone is ridiculous and outright embarrassing for a club that has all the money you could ever want behind it.
But, ya know, whatever. You win this game and everything, goes back to normal.
The first half? Awful.
For the duration of the first 45 minutes, NYCFC looked lethargic and outmatched. In a fair and just world, Toronto probably would have netted two goals. But due to heroics from Sean Johnson, City escaped the first half scoreless.
OK, no big deal. Onto the second half. Surely, we’ll get them there. Right?
In just the 47th minute, Maxime Chanot does... this.
Just... WHAT!? What the hell is the thought process here? Chanot is probably one of the best center backs in the league. He knows better than to do that. You’re all alone and have no idea where your goalkeeper is. CLEAR THE BALL!!!
Instead, he tries to head it back to the hands of Johnson, not knowing that the netminder is still on his line and that Alejandro Pozuelo is lurking near. The header is predictably short by a mile, Poz hops on it, and converts.
At this point, you can see the writing on the wall. But we push through. And some time later, NYCFC gives me something that, in retrospect, I wish I never had: hope.
After a long period of Toronto beginning to sit back and absorb several close calls, Maxi Moralez looped in a cross to the far side of the box. Despite missing who I suppose was his primary target Taty Castellanos, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi made a dashing run to strike the ball on the half volley and past the Toronto keeper to tie the game at 1-1.
At this point, I’m feeling pretty good about things. NYCFC has a long history of good responses when fighting from behind. The crowd is getting louder, the attack is starting to come together... it’s all looking good right now. My optimism has been restored.
Boy, was I in for a heartbreaker.
Towards the end of regulation, it feels like extra time is imminent. And then, another costly defensive miscue occurs and takes the wind out of fans’ sails.
TFC’s Richie Laryea carries the ball from a wide position into the box. Ronald Matarrita is tracking him and, despite having been beaten on the dribble, Moralez and Alexander Callens are both there for defensive cover.
Then, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Mata decides to dive in with possibly the dumbest tackle I’ve seen someone attempt this season.
Unbelievably foolish challenge by Ronald Matarrita to give away a penalty in the 90th minute of a playoff game. So rash and unnecessary. #NYCFC have shot themselves in the foot with awful defensive errors tonight.#NYCvTOR #MLSCupPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/DJ6GlorMRR— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) October 24, 2019
I... have no words. None. This was a poor attempt that had a zero percent success probability.
Sure enough, in the final minute of regulation, Pozuelo chips his penalty down the middle to put the dagger in.
And just like that, the season is over. In the most pathetic way possible.