It’s been said for quite a while that New York City FC is good enough to compete for silverware this season. And last night, they assured themselves a chance to do just that when they beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1.
NYCFC dominated early and would get their opening tally just 10 minutes into the game. Tony Rocha — stepping i to replace the suspended Alexander Ring — forced a turnover in the midfield which bounced over to Alexandru Mitrita. The Romanian then found Héber in the box, and the Brazilian forward finished with ease to give NYCFC a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, Héber’s night would be cut short not long after that when he pulled up with what has been called a right quad injury minutes later. Gary Mackay-Steven — who was celebrating his 29th birthday — was the player tasked with replacing City’s main talisman and he would come up big not long after that.
In the 26th minute, Maxi Moralez would find Mackay-Steven in the opposing box on a lovely incisive pass. The Scotsman just barely got his shot past the Vancouver keeper to give his team a 2-0 advantage.
NYCFC was thought to have conceded a penalty to the Caps when keeper Sean Johnson seemingly brought down Toisant Rickets in the box. Upon consulting with the VAR, however, referee Marcos DeOliviera ruled that no penalty would be given, keeping City’s comfortable lead intact.
The second half initially saw NYCFC lose some cohesion and their defensive shape as Vancouver constantly threatened goal. The Whitecaps would eventually score a goal of their own when Yordy Reyna converted a shot from an acute angle in the 64th minute to put his team back into the game.
But the Bronx Blues would not be denied their insurance goal when Mitrita was able to score a nearly unstoppable free kick from distance in the 72nd minute to put NYCFC up 3-1 and seal a huge road victory.
The win — their 14th of the season — along with the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 win over Orlando City officially sealed a playoff berth for NYCFC who still have their sights firmly set on overtaking the Philadelphia Union at the top of the Eastern Conference and ensuring home field advantage.
NYCFC are also in the driver’s seat as four of their last seven games will be at home in the Bronx, including one against Atlanta United on September 25.