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NYCFC draw Philadelphia Union 1-1: The Boys in Blue see red, win gold

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A spicy afternoon in the Bronx and NYCFC locks up fourth place, home field advantage

MLS: Philadelphia Union at New York City FC
If the Golden Boot fits, wear it.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC drew the Philadelphia Union 1-1 on Decision Day, finishing the season in #4 in the Eastern Conference. Nicely done.

The good news: The Pigeons will have home field advantage when we play Atlanta United FC on either November 20 or 21. (Because why should MLS settle on a schedule two weeks out like one of the grown-up professional leagues?)

The even better news: Taty Castellanos deservedly won the Golden Boot.

It was a fair result, but questions remain after a game that was determined by equal parts skill, grit, and luck.

Was that a straight red?

Short answer: Yes.

NYCFC’s Gideon Zealem studs-up knock into Leon Flach’s ankle was enough to earn a red card. The real question is: Should Video Review have overturned referee Guido Gonzales Jr.’s original yellow card? That’s debatable. Zealem was reaching for a ball after a sloppy first touch—there was no intent, and the yellow seemed fair. It could have stood on another day.

Was that Philadelphia goal offside?

Short answer: No.

Philadelphia striker Kacper Przybylko was kept onside by Alexander Callens and banged in a goal thanks to a disorganized NYCFC backline.

Is Taty Castellanos the best striker in MLS?

Short Answer: Yes.

The Man from Mendoza not only saved the scoreline yesterday, he’s easily the most dangerous NYCFC player since David Villa roamed the groomed grass at Yankee Stadium.

This season, Castellanos evolved from a strong if inconsistent forward who would just as soon take a tumble and try to get the call into a lethal striker who fully earned to win the Golden Boot with 19 goals.

In fact, our colleagues at the Outfield called it back in May: Valentín Castellanos is the best striker in MLS. The Outfield even used a graph to prove the point.

It’s worth noting that D.C. United’s Ola Kamara scored twice yesterday, and also had 19 goals this season. Castellanos won the Golden Boot because the tiebreak is assist total, and his eight topped Kamara’s four. Castellanos not only scores, he feeds the attack.

Questions remain

It wasn't all chicken buckets and churros yesterday in the Bronx. A squad that remained mostly healthy this season is suddenly thin on the bench, and manager Ronny Deila once again seemed to forget that you can make tactical substitutions during a game—you just hit R2 on a Playstation, RT on an Xbox.

Still, NYCFC supporters should enjoy this moment, and look forward to hosting a playoff game on our five-a-side field in November.

As for the specific date, don’t be so uptight. We know MLS is busy, so we’ll just clear our schedules, and free up the whole weekend, and refresh our phones over and over again until we hear something.