NYCFC Fall Into Old Ways as Toronto FC Soar to Eastern Conference FInal
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC defender Ronald Matarrita (22) lies on the ground after his teams loss against the Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium. Toronto FC won 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The first MLS Playoff appearance for New York City FC ended in disaster as Toronto FC absolutely crushed them 5-0 at Yankee Stadium.

The long road to a franchise first home playoff game crashes to a bitter end as New York City Football Club fall to Toronto FC in emphatic fashion by the score of 0-5.

A crafty and dangerous Toronto Football Club applied the pressure early and often completely undermining NYC’s attack cruising to an aggregate score of 0-7. City was left wondering how the season’s league-leading goal scoring team could be shut out in back to back games with absolutely no offensive answers.

City’s attack demonstrated that it needed a significant amount of time, and space if it was to effectively compete against Toronto. Unfortunately, the seasoned and stingy Toronto would allow for none of it while showing how important a strong defensive game can lead directly to potent offensive opportunities. The pressure applied to New York City effectively smothered any hope they had at making a run in the playoffs.

The hype that came with NYCFC’s playoff opportunity was met with the stark reality of what happens when a club either lacks the chemistry or momentum at a critical time. Unfortunately for City, they were found lacking in both key elements from the kickoff. The Atmosphere was truly electric as the match began as Toronto FC away support matched the New York Home support in tenacity.

The dream would soon be over for members of the Third Rail, and NYC’s home fans as the crafty tandem of Jozy Altidore, and the 2015 league MVP Sebastian Giovinco combined on a play that saw Giovinco utilize his pinpoint control at the top of the penalty box slicing through the ineffective back line for the first Away goal in the 6th. Toronto would continue applying the pressure.

As Toronto F.C. head coach Greg Vanney spoke to after the game his team came in focused and hungry to come out on top, “We were pushing to get the goal… we came out aggressive and wanted to get the first goal. We were fortunate that it came pretty early… credit to the guys in their approach and commitment throughout the game.” As the match went on it seemed as though Toronto was able to frustrate New York City by possessing the ball and keeping City out of rhythm.

As Toronto continued to beat City at their own game as a second goal would be found for Toronto within the first 25 minutes. New York’s defense proved again to be totally ineffective in the 19th as french signing Frederic Brillant was dismantled one on one in the penalty box by Sebastian Giovinco who drew a penalty kick, and subsequently buried it. Sebastian would go on to complete the Hat Trick in stoppage time (90+1).

Toronto was able to show up as the members of the entire team put on a dominating performance against NYCFC’s vulnerable defense. Jozy Altidore would put the game truly and wholly away with the third goal in the 30th minute after Toronto defender Eriq Zaveleta was able to put a clearance in Altidore’s path. Altidore would put forth a strong individual effort against the shaky defense and blasted a shot over the head of City’s keeper Eirik Johansen.

Vanney would praise Altidore after the game, “He doesn’t deserve scrutiny, He was a player who had some issues in terms of injury, sometimes those aren’t the player’s fault … he’s worked to get healthy and find his form, and you can see what he is capable of doing… having him out there has been huge, and, hopefully, he can keep building on the momentum.” Despite the upsetting result for NYCFC’s home fans the home support never truly fell away.

New York City’s head coach Patrick Vieira was apologetic and disappointed after the game conceding that they were not strong enough to compete. He went on to say, “[Toronto] were the better team and I think in the playoffs you can see the difference in the ability between the two teams. I think we still have to work very hard to build up a strong team because there is a gap between Toronto and ourselves … ” If this final home game proved anything to New York City, it’s that the playoffs are a completely new season and challenge.

New York City on the night fell into old habits, and mistakes that may not have hurt them during the regular season, but were the leading cause of their failure to make any impact during the two legs of the Eastern Conference Semi-Final. Vieira also stopped short of placing the blame backline who accompanied by the team’s defensive performance allowed a collective 64 goals on the season including playoffs leaving the club at a -2 goal differential on the season.

That is a tremendous number of goals against as Vieira had this to say, “If you don’t defend well as a team you struggle … and I don’t want to blame our back four or our goalkeeper, I think as a team we couldn’t defend it well at all and when you don’t defend well you expose yourself, and when you expose yourself quality players like Giovinco express their talent.” New York City was unable to generate any momentum on the night and would go on to enter the offseason having suffered a crushing defeat.

Although it is too early to truly evaluate the season one can expect that along with goal scoring, an effective defense will become a part of the team’s philosophy going forward. The what ifs and rumor mill will be in full force as the always entertaining NYCFC look to not only meet the standard they set this year but exceed it going forward. Despite the disappointing outcome, only time can tell if New York City Football Club can grow from this hard lesson, and finally rise to the occasion when the pressure of playing in New York is fully applied.