NYCFC hold on for 5-4 win over TFC in NYC shootout

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They say if you can do it in New York, you can do it anywhere. Sunday at Citi Field, Toronto FC was unsuccessful.

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It was another shootout in New York, a wild and crazy game between TFC and host New York City FC with the Reds scoring two goals in the final four minutes of regulation play to come within a goal. But, in the end, defending MLS Cup champions NYCFC held on for a 5-4 win.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak for TFC.

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“They’re a good team,” said TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who played his 300th game with the Reds, the most of any Toronto player. “They adjusted and they pushed and they found their way back (after losing two goals). But I’m really proud of how our team fought back. It was simply too big a mountain to climb.

“We know we can improve. We know we have levels to reach that we haven’t reached yet,” he added. “It’s a tough loss but we’ll learn from it and I think as the season progresses you’ll see this team become much more consistent.”

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Toronto took a 2-0 lead early in the first half thanks to a brace from Jesus Jimenez, who now has six goals in eight games since joining the TFC this season from Polish club Górnik Zabrze . He shares the MLS lead in goals, tied with Austin FC’s Sebastian Driussi. Rookie Kosi Thompson had assists on both scorers.

But then the host Blues scored five in a row and held a three-goal lead until the end of the game.

Toronto rookie Deandre Kerr and veteran Michael Bradley scored for Toronto as time ticked down to make things interesting. However, the equalizer could not be found and the TFC now have three wins, three losses and two draws on the season.

Despite TFC’s brave comeback, it was New York that dominated the game statistically. The home side held a 58% to 42% advantage in possession and fired 22 shots on eight from the Reds. NYCFC led 11 shots on goal on five by Toronto.

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For Osorio, his 300th appearance was bittersweet. He collected a fine assist on Jimenez’s opening goal, but the Brampton native was taken out of the game in the 60th minute by coach Bob Bradley after the New Yorkers scored their fourth goal. Bradley was no doubt thinking about the next game as Osorio suffered a thigh injury a week ago and was already questionable for the New York game.

“I think right now, right now it’s a bit difficult because I’m more focused on the game and the result,” Osorio said when asked about his milestone. “It’s been great here (in Toronto) and reaching 300 games for this club is an honour. But right now it’s hard. Maybe at some point I can reflect and be really proud of what I’ve accomplished.

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After taking a 2-0 lead in the first half, the Reds were quickly overwhelmed by New York’s powerful and creative offense. The Blues chained attack after attack and could have scored more without the many missed chances and the good saves of TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

After Jimenez scored twice in the first half, New York star Valentín Castellanos brought the hosts within one. NYCFC then scored four goals in the second half, two from Thiago Andrade and singles from Santiago Rodríguez and Gabriel Pereira.

But then the TFC staged the comeback which narrowly failed. Kerr, a second-half substitute, scored his first MLS goal in the 84th minute via a header from a corner kick to make the game 5-3.

New York defender Alfredo Morales then picked up his second yellow card in the 89th minute and was banned to the dressing room, putting the hosts down and giving the Reds a fighting chance. On Alejandro Pozuelo’s subsequent free-kick, Michael Bradley headed the ball into the goal to bring Toronto within one. But that’s all she wrote.

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The Reds were without full-back Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, striker Ayo Akinola and midfielders Ralph Priso and Noble Okello through injuries while striker Jayden Nelson was suspended for a red card.

Jimenez’s first goal, in the 13th minute, started with a nice back-and-forth between Osorio and Thompson after a long pass across the field from Carlos Salcedo. Osorio received the ball from Thompson and found Jimenez in the box and the Spaniard placed it with a right foot into the bottom right corner, off the post and inside. Thompson and Osorio both received assists.

Bono made a huge save in the 24th minute when he slid out of his goal to deflect a Santiago Rodríguez shot over the goal. The veteran TFC keeper made six saves in the game and leads MLS with 36 saves, tied with Real Salt Lake’s Zac MacMath.

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Jimenez’s second goal came in the 27th minute, when he received a brilliant ball deep downfield by Thompson. Jimenez picked up the pass on the right side of NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson, stepped right, then passed the ball over the keeper.

Bono made two more excellent saves minutes after Jimenez’s second goal, including one from the ever-dangerous Castellanos.

A Castellanos goal seemed inevitable, however, as the Argentine striker created and missed a number of good scoring chances.

And then it happened in the 38th minute. Castellanos scored with a sliding right-footed shot from the center of the penalty area to the center of the goal after picking up a fine pass from Andrade, making it 2-1 and sparking the NYCFC onslaught that culminated in a one-goal win for the home side.

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