A late penalty nearly killed NYCFC’s playoff hopes, but a last-second penalty kept the Blues in the playoff hunt for another week.

By Jeff Weisinger

Although it may be too little too late, one thing that can be said about New York City FC is that they’re not going to go down without a fight — a typical New York City attitude.

A goal by midfielder Frank Lampard and a penalty kick by captain David Villa in NYCFC’s 2-1 upset over the current Supporters’ Shield leading Vancouver Whitecaps pushed the Blues to their third straight win Saturday night at BC Place.

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The final 10 minutes had everyone on the edge of their seats.

Vancouver’s Kendall Waston drew a penalty on Angelino in the 88th minute and Pedro Morales drilled the penalty shot past goalkeeper Josh Saunders to tie the match at one goal apiece. The drama went all the way through stoppage time as Frank Lampard drew a penalty on a tackle by Matias Laba at the top of Vancouver’s 18-yard box in the closing seconds of stoppage time and Villa capitalized, making Whitecaps keeper David Ousted guess the wrong way, to secure the three points for New York City.

The goal was Villa’s 17th on the season.

“Mania, pure mania,” NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis said afterwards.

Referee Ricardo Salazar had to be escorted off of the field after the match due to his controversial call for New York City in the final seconds, and the first penalty kick in the 88th minute.

“I honestly feel that both penalty kick decisions were very poor. The game should’ve ended 1-0 in my opinion,” Kreis added.

“It was two non-penalties,” Lampard explained. “I have to be fair to the ref now because I was ready to be negative about him after he gave their one. It’s not an easy job. I think he maybe made a mistake with their one, well he did make a mistake and mine wasn’t a penalty either.”

However, the Blues didn’t have to rely on just penalty kicks to pull points out of Vancouver. Lampard scored his second goal of his MLS campaign in the 29th minute on a crisp attack by the Blues.

Andrea Pirlo found Angelino near the Whitecaps six-yard box, and the youngster Angelino found Lampard on a low-cross, as Lampard was trailing behind. He hit the ball on the first-touch into the back of the net to put NYCFC up 1-0 at that point.

“I have to say a big thanks to the players who made it,” Lampard said of the goal. “I think Andrea’s ball was top class and Angelino played a fantastic cross and I arrived at the right time. I think it was a very good team goal.”

The win marks NYCFC’s third straight win, matching their season-longest streak from earlier this summer and their first win in the west coast this year. The three points they earned in the win keeps the Blues alive in their hunt for the sixth and final playoff seed in the East, however they’ll still need Montreal to lose a few of their remaining matches in order for NYCFC to have a chance.

“I think in our minds we have to win out,” Kreis added. “That’s clear in our minds that’s the only way we have a chance and even then we might not. I’m really, really pleased with the performance again tonight, so happy with the effort that’s being put forth and the togetherness that we’re showing now in a consistent basis.”

NYCFC travels to both D.C. United (Oct. 2) and Orlando City (Oct. 16) in the following two Friday night matches with their season finale at home against the New England Revolution on Oct. 25 – each of the three teams are ahead of NYCFC in the Eastern Conference table.

“We’re still alive in the playoffs, even though it’s a small, slight chance,” Mix Diskerud said.

“It feels good definitely when we have the six-hour flight home.”

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