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Justin Haak bosses midfield, shines in NYCFC II loss

El Mehdi Youssoufi sees red as NYCFC II held scoreless at home by Toronto FC II

Justin Haak had a good game even if NYCFC II didn’t.
Photograph by Katie Cahalin, courtesy NYCFC.com

New York City FC II lost to Toronto FC II on Saturday at Belson Stadium 2-0. This marked the third and final matchup between these two teams, with Toronto winning two of those. NYCFC II remain third in the Eastern Conference, with Toronto and Rochester NY FC only three points behind.

Both Kevin O’Toole, who started at right-wing ,and Andres Jasson, who started at left-wing, missed goal-scoring opportunities within the first 20 minutes. The first half was at times end-to-end, but was mostly scrappy, with both teams committing a plethora of hard fouls. In the first half alone the teams combined to have 23 fouls and four yellow cards.

Game Stats

NYCFC II: 13 shots, 5 on goal, 59.5% possession, 506 passes, 83.6% accuracy

TFC II: 8 shots, 2 on goal, 45.5% possession, 342 passes, 78.1% accuracy

At the center of most of the physical play were two homegrown players in Jasson and Justin Haak. Jasson continues to get fouled at an absurd rate, and managed to make every foul seem worthy of a yellow card. Haak dominated the midfield in the first half, both drawing and committing fouls — along with some extracurricular antics. Haak’s smack-talking is certainly reaching Senior Team levels.

Even though the result was frustrating, Haak’s performance was impressive: He displayed grit and personality needed to dominate a game, controlling the midfield on both sides of the ball. He finished the game with a 92.5% pass completion on 53 attempts. His one shot, an effort from outside the box, forced a beautiful save from the Toronto keeper. His improvement is notable as he looks to be the next Senior Team deep-lying midfielder.

NYCFC dominated possession in the first half with Toronto only showing glimpses of danger through counterattacking. Five minutes after the break Stephen Turnbull was caught in no man’s land and Toronto had a three-on-two which they converted to go up 1-0.

In the 55th minute, El Mehdi Youssoufi received a second yellow for a challenge on Toronto’s keeper. Youssoufi, primarily a winger, was playing as a striker on Saturday, as he has done in the recent past. His pace and flair can cause issues for defenders, however his lack of physicality and control is an issue up top.

Down a player, the Young Pigeons continued to dominate possession but without causing any real danger. Toronto were happy to soak up pressure, and in the 75th minute, Themi Antonoglou dusted Turnbull and slotted the ball past Alex Rando to secure the win for the away side.

NYCFC II controlled the majority of possession and outshot Toronto, but Toronto were compact and clinical, converting on counterattacks while not allowing themselves to be broken down.

NYCFC II travels to Subaru Park on June 27th in a rematch against Philadelphia Union II. The last time the two teams faced off, the Union were victorious so Matt Pilkington’s men will look to avenge that defeat in a little over a week’s time.

Goals

Toronto, Julian Altobelli 50’
Toronto, Themi Antonoglou 75’

Discipline

NYCFC, El Mahdi Youssoufi red card 55’