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NYCFC upset New England and advances to Eastern Conference Finals

New York City FC celebrates penalty kick win at Gillette Stadium

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – On Tuesday night, the Supporters’ Shield winning New England Revolution hosted NYCFC in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. With full-time concluding drawn at 1-1, the whirlwind that was extra-time held an additional goal for each side and a red card for NYCFC’s Valentín “Taty” Castellanos, sending the game to penalty kicks knotted up at 2-2. However, it would be New York City that emerged victorious from the shootout. They went perfect from the spot with Sean Johnson making a clutch save on New England’s second penalty to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference finals.

NYCFC upsets New England and advances

First half:

The scoring started quickly and early with some solid passing from NYCFC which saw Santiago Rodríguez switch the field with a ball to Jesús Medina who was able to find Tayvon Gray on the overlapping run. Gray’s ability to play a one-time pass into the box for Rodríguez making a run towards the penalty spot who slots it past MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Matt Turner. This goal put NYCFC up 1-0 in just the third minute.

New England wouldn’t be without an answer, however, as NYCFC committed a foul on the left side of Johnson’s box giving Captain Carles Gil an opportunity over a free kick in the ninth minute. A well-played ball into the center of the box from Gil found the head of Adam Buksa for his seventeenth goal of the season, tying the game 1-1.

The goal was followed by a tough foul from Taty Castellanos on Andrew Farrell in the 18-minute which saw him awarded the first of a few yellow cards from this matchup.

The next big opportunity came in the 21-minute when NYCFC player Maxi Moralez hit a perfectly placed free-kick just outside the six-yard box which found Rodríguez’s head. Rodríguez was able to knock it down to the foot of Medina for what seemed a wide-open tap for goal but was just tipped by a mob of New England players to put Medina off.

The first half would be capped off with a Matt Polster yellow card in the 27-minute, with both teams kept fairly quiet offensively for the remainder of the half despite a few chances on the ball for each side.

Second half:

It was New England that would come out stronger to start the second half. The Revolution creating the first real opportunity in the 57-minute. There was some quick one-touch passing in the midfield that found Tajon Buchanan breaking down the wing for a layoff to Gustavo Bou. Bou played a ball into the back post for a running Tommy McNamara who was able to get ahead to it but flew the ball just high of the crossbar.

The back-and-forth continued as NYCFC found themselves on the attack again. For example, in the 64-minute when Medina found Rodríguez on the wing in some traffic. Breaking around Polster, Rodríguez was able to find some space and play an excellent ball to Moralez wide open in the box for a great chance which just caught the post to keep the score tied. 

This opportunity was followed up by some great goalkeeping on both sides which started in the 65-minute as Gray dribbled a pass across the box and found Rodríguez for a quick shot, quelled by Turner on a reaction save to keep the Revolution even. 

Not to be outdone, Johnson found himself making a solid block to keep the scoreline tied as New England’s DeJuan Jones played a ball across the box for Bou. Bou manage a shot on goal from just inside the box. This forces Johnson to dive left and make the outstretched save in the 68-minute.

From here, both teams would see the game to a 1-1 draw taking this semifinal into extra time.

Extra Time:

While NYCFC would start with the ball, New England created the first opportunity to break the deadlock as Gil played in yet again another great ball which a covered Buksa headed just wide. 

As the first half of extra time concluded, NYCFC would open the second half in the 109-minute with Moralez on the right-wing who dropped the ball inside for substitute Gudmundur Thórarinsson. The Icelander swings a ball in at the back post where Castellanos is able to make a move on Jones and slam the header in to put New York City up 2-1.

Castellanos’ goal would come at a cost though as the 23-year-old committed a foul in the 113-minute which saw him pick up his second yellow card of the match and a subsequent red sending NYCFC to 10 men and suspending him for the next match. This seemed to breathe some life into New England as Bruce Arena opted for two 114-minute attacking substitutes to try and get the game back to even.

And this eventually paid off with NYCFC struggling under the pressure especially with their defender Gray cramping and finding it difficult to cover space on the right side. Gil at the top-right of the box played a short ball to Rev’s substitute Emmanuel Boateng on the wing, who whipped it to the far side for a breaking Buchanan touching it beyond Sean Johnson for a 2-2 tie in the 118-minute.

Following a crazy period of extra time, we’d head to a shoutout and the second in the Eastern Conference semifinals play after Philadelphia’s victory over Nashville.

Johnson’s clutch save sends NYCFC to Conference Finals

Both hitting their first penalty kicks, NYCFC’s Alfredo Morales and New England’s Gil tied things at 1-1. This was before Thiago Andrade made it 2-1 for New York City. After scoring the opening Revolution goal it was Buksa who was foiled as Johnson dove firmly to his right to clamp the shot and make a save keeping it 2-1 NYCFC. 

NYCFC would go perfect from the spot scoring from all five of their penalty attempts with New England missing just the one which was enough to put NYCFC through. It was Alexander Callens to hit the game-winner and send his club into the Eastern Conference Finals.

With NYCFC advancing, they will be without Golden Boot winner Taty Castellanos when they take on Philadelphia Union next Sunday. This is because he will be suspended for the next match following his red card against New England.

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