Photo credit: NYC FC Instagram

New York City FC beat Toronto FC 2-1 on a dominant display of good football. Luka Gavran, with seven saves, was the key man of a Toronto FC team that only managed one goal even with one more man on the field because of Keaton Parks’s red card in the 68th minute. 

First half

The Reds had three changes to their starting XI due to injuries.

The team, led by Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, started the game in the best way possible with a goal by Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty in the 7th minute.

Alonso Coello’s great cross from the middle of the field put Marshall-Rutty in advantage to pass New York City FC’s goalkeeper, giving Toronto the early lead. 

But after that attack, it was all NYCFC. Gavran held the goal count at zero until the 24th minute when a magnificent Santiago Rodriguez free-kick ended up in the back of the net.

For the first time in the season, Toronto’s defence didn’t look comfortable. They were giving the ball to the rival and looked panicked. 

In added time, Gavran once again came up with the clutch save to keep the score tied a 1-1. 

Second half

New York City started the second half where they left it, attacking and suffocating TFC’s defence. Their second goal came on a great cross by Julian Fernandez and Kevin O’Toole’s killer header in the 65th minute. 

Three minutes after that, NYC FC’s Parks left the game after sticking his cleats on Kobe Franklin’s right shin. New York City was forced to sit back and give the ball to Toronto, who started to attack constantly for the first time in the match. 

The clearest chance came on a combination of Tyrese Spicer—the top overall pick from the MLS SuperDraft—and Ayo Akinola, Toronto FC’s no. 9. But he missed the big chance from the six-yard box. 

Toronto FC kept attacking, but NYCFC successfully defended every single time TFC tried to commit damage from the wings with Insigne and Bernardeschi. 

The nonexistent no. 9

After four games, John Herdman’s team still feels like something is missing. This time, it was the connection between the wingers and midfielders because of missing Jonathan Osorio due to injury and the struggle for a consistent no. 9. 

Prince Owusu was once again the weak link for the TFC offence. Every time he touched the ball, it felt like a disconnection. He created more opportunities for NYCFC (a bad clearance that almost ended up on goal) than TFC. 

Akinola was no different. He missed the equalizer on a Spicer’s cross, hitting the ball with his shin rather than his foot and sending it wide.

Next up

Toronto will welcome Atlanta United FC to BMO Field on Saturday, Mar. 23. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m.