David Villa
Bruno Rouby, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Against 10 men, New York City FC close out a nail-biting win in Toronto. David Villa scores in his return from injury.

NYCFC found themselves coming into Sunday’s game third in MLS standings and a full three points behind the Red Bulls, who still have a game in hand. As a result, a win was absolutely vital against a Toronto FC side who were down there best defender, Chris Mavinga, due to suspension.

Unfortunately, the Bronx Blues’ puzzling away from left the result of this game in question for most of the 90 minutes. And without late-game heroics from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, the narrative would be quite different.

The action picked up early at BMO Field, as the recent poor discipline for Toronto FC players continued. Jozy Altidore picked up a red card in the 11th minute, leaving his team to play with ten men for the rest of the match.

For much of the first half, NYCFC just seemed stuck in second gear. There were some good moments of build up that just ended with poor finishing. All in all, the concentration and focus in an away game was just not good enough. Especially against a side playing with ten men.

Despite this, the captain David Villa put his side up in the 15th minute. Villa, returning from injury after missing seven games, slotted in his ninth goal of the campaign.

Yet the good vibes would not last long. Sebastian Giovinco leveled for Toronto FC in the 27th minute after City’s defense failed to close him down. Fans may have been left scratching their heads as a centre-back pairing of Alex Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha was not in sync and struggled with communication.

Going forward, Dome Torrent will need to find a solution. Both Maxime Chanot and Ben Sweat were on the bench. Sweat fond his way into the game as a substitute, but poor man-marking on corners are becoming far too common.

Before the half ended, Tajouri-Shradi struck gold and a little bit of luck, as his low strike just snuck under keeper Alex Bono who could not get down quick enough. NYCFC ended the half on top, but Toronto looked far too dangerous despite their disadvantage.

In the second half, Toronto continued to put the pressure on City. Poor man-marking led to a Victor Vasquez equalizer. Although NYCFC were left with their hands on their heads, it was clear that Callens left his man wide open.

The game went back and forth until Torrent decided to inject some new energy into his squad by bringing on new transfer Valentin Castellanos. The 19-year-old certainly brought pace to the game, but it was his fellow winger, Tajouri-Shradi, who put the final stamp on the game.

Tajouri-Shradi put his foot through an absolutely blistering strike, giving the Bronx Blues all three points, keeping them level with their cross-town rivals in second place.

The next time NYCFC see the field, it will be against the Philadelphia Union. It will be the first meeting for both sides this season. Thus far, the Union’s top goal scorer has been Borek Dockal with five on the season.

Final Stats

Transfer Round-up

As the secondary transfer window closed earlier this week, NYCFC brought three new players into the squad.

Eloi Amagat, 33-year-old midfielder, and formerly the captain of Spanish side Girona, was the first player to sign under new manager Torrent.

Torrent has previous experience with Amagat when he was the gaffer for Girona back in 2005-2006. Via Benjamin Baer of mlssoccer.com, Torrent had high praise for the veteran midfielder.

“Eloi has a lot of experience in Spain. He has quality to keep the ball and is able to do key passes for our striker and has absolute control when he plays in the midfield,” said Torrent. “He can play as a 6, 8 or a 10 and, for me, it is important to have versatile players that can play in different positions. He has a lot of quality and I think he can help us in the midfield.”

Next up, Castellanos was signed on loan from Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay. Castellanos (Tati) is a promising young talent with quality and speed, who will bolster the depth at the wing positions. Castellanos has already opened his account for NYCFC, scoring on his debut against Vancouver.

Finally, just before deadline day, NYCFC signed 21-year-old Daniel Bedoya. Per Dylan Butler of mlssoccer.com, Bedoya has spent most of the season playing for the Long Island Rough Riders, the NYCFC affiliate.

Bedoya, who lived in New York after his family moved from Colombia at the age of eight, also drew praise from Torrent.

“We watched the friendly game and we saw this player, Danny, and saw he has a special quality to play in between the lines,” Dome Torrent said. “His position is in between Maxi and Jesus, he has control all the time, and he understands soccer which is very important for me. He’s a smart player. I’m sure 100 percent he’s able to help the team.”

With a full squad, Torrent and his men will push full steam ahead to challenge Atlanta FC for the supporter’s shield and the top position prior to the playoffs.

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