On Sunday afternoon, New York City FC took on Toronto FC in a thrilling contest that lived up to expectations. The teams shared eight goals evenly, in a drama filled 4-4 encounter. Four penalties were awarded, Sebastian Giovinco scored a hat trick, and each team scored a goal in the final ten minutes.
The excitement began with a bending free kick from NYCFC captain David Villa that went over the wall, off the Toronto keeper, and into the side netting via the post. Soon after, Toronto FC won a soft penalty that Italian striker Giovinco struck onto the post and out. In the 29th minute NYCFC got a chance of their own from the spot. Villa missed, but Patrick Mullins followed up and saw his shot deflect in off of a defender to make the score 2-0.
NYCFC was in control of the match, but a moment of madness swung the momentum in Toronto’s favor. NYCFC defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe intentionally ran into a Toronto player in the box, who didn’t look like scoring. Giovinco redeemed himself from the penalty spot to cut New York’s lead in half.
Giovinco then took center-stage and scored a nine-minute hat trick. NYCFC’s defenders could not clear long passes from Toronto and could not catch up to flee-footed striker. He showed composure and experience in a well-taken hat trick that took Toronto into the break 3-2 up.
NYCFC pressed to find an equalizer and did find one in the 65th minute after David Villa won and took a penalty smartly. This was the fourth penalty of the day that Ted Unkel, the match referee, awarded. At 3-3 fans were enthralled, and the scoring was not finished.
In the 82nd minute, Marco Delgado scored after a Toronto counterattack. NYCFC looked to have been a beaten team, but the 27,000 fans did not lose faith. 2 minutes later Patrick Mullins scored a header after the ball bobbled around in the Toronto box. In added time, NYCFC pushed for a winning goal that proved to be elusive.
NYCFC fans were disappointed to not see Frank Lampard in the side on Sunday, but he should be available soon. On Friday before the Toronto game, NYCFC reported that Lampard had suffered an untimely calf injury that would delay his first start for the New York team.
Lampard should fit into midfield quite nicely with Tommy McNamara, who is in fine form. Mehdi Ballouchy did not have a great game today, and will likely be the man sacrificed for Lampard’s debut. Question marks remain over the defenders in the NYCFC back line. Andoni Iraola and Chris Wingert played well in the outside back positions, but Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Shay Facey (in the center-back positions) allowed Giovinco the time and space needed to score two critical goals before halftime.
Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo will add a lot to the NYCFC team offensively, but the defense still looks suspect. The team is building and improving, but perhaps for now the strategy will be you may score, but we will score more. This is quite possible with the triple threat of Lampard, Pirlo, and Villa. The three Europeans will soon be playing together, using their Champions League experience to get the better of MLS defenders.