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NYCFC advance to MLS is Back Round of 16

Late drama in LAG-Houston matchup send City through to the knockout rounds

Inter Miami CF v New York City FC - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Three days ago, New York City FC had a 26% chance of advancing to Knockout Rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament. And they had nobody to blame with themselves. After three games in the group stage, City had only one win and two defeats while only scoring two goals.

The odds were stacks against them. But things became much more optimistic after FC Cincinnati defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-0, sending NYCFC’s Jersey-based rivals out of the tournament and City into prime position.

All the Boys in Blue needed from there was one of two things to happen:

A.) The Vancouver Whitecaps to win 1-0 over the Chicago Fire

— OR —

B.) The LA Galaxy to either draw with the Houston Dynamo, or beat them by no more than two goals.

The Whitecaps seemed poised to do City a massive favor when Yordy Reyna put Vancouver up 1-0 in the 65th minute. Unfortunately, the Caps would strike again and win the game 2-0.

This meant that NYCFC had only the Galaxy to rely upon for advancement into the Knockout Rounds. And at first, things did not look good. In just the 17th minute, Houston pulled ahead of LAG on a Darwin Quintero free kick that froze LA keeper David Bingham.

From there, the Galaxy would have their chances but could not sneak one over the goal line.

But then, the impossible happened.

With time running out and the odds of NYCFC seeing an equalizing goal to send them through diminishing by the second, the Galaxy drew a penalty off of a Maynor Figueroa shove on a corner kick in the 90th minute. Cristian Pavon stepped up to take it and buried it, leveling the game at 1-1 and giving NYCFC the scenario needed at the eleventh hour.

Yeah. I can’t believe it either.

Having finished in the last available spot for advancement into the Round of 16, NYCFC will suit up against old foes Toronto FC on Sunday at 8:30 PM (EST). And according to manager Ronny Deila, the entire team is ready to go.