Run For The MLS Cup Ends For NYCFC

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

Alexander Pozuelo was the difference converting a goal from the penalty spot late in the second half. It was the decisive goal at Citi Field Wednesday night that went past Sean Johnson and put  an end to the NYCFC season as Toronto FC advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference finals with a 2-1 win,  

A decisive goal that was an upset. NYCFC finished first in the Eastern Conference  and was expected to bring the MLS Cup home. They played their final game at an alternative venue as Yankee Stadium was not available due to time converting the field from baseball to soccer, and over 19,829 hoped their team in the blue would win this one and have a chance to reach the finals for the MLS Cup.

And with the talent that NYCFC had on this roster, once again like the past two years  not advancing in the semifinals, they go home. It wasn’t supposed to be this way and now NYCFC prepares for that short offseason and possible more transition.

There could be a new coach and different names on the roster when they assemble again in March of  2020 at Yankee Stadium. 

“This club deserves to win something, over seven months, we played really well in my opinion,” said coach Domenec Torrent. 

But his team did not play well enough to advance.  Two previous meetings during the season, Toronto took the first and the second match resulted in a draw. This match was a contrast as NYCFC was dominated in the first half and Johnson was instrumental with saves that kept it close. 

Credit: USA Today Sports

“Everything from first place in the East, best points total, all that goes out the window,” said Johnson. “If you can’t make anything of it, yeah the offseason is here and it’s a harsh reality for those who haven’t experienced this yet. For those who were here last year, it’s a repeat.”

The coach was asked if he will return next year. Torrent was more interested in addressing how this team was going to be in good hands no matter if he or someone else takes over.

“I don’t know,”Torrent said about his status.  “I need to talk about the season. it’s not important whether they are ready for another coach because they are a good group.”

He said the NYCFC hierarchy knows how to retain important players. And for the most part it will be  Johnson, Valentin Castellanos, Maximilano Moralez, and Ismale Tajouri Shradi returning as they are some of the key components that got NYCFC to the semifinals.

Ismael on an assist from Moralez got the match even at 1-1, a left foot shot from the centre of the box in that contrast of the second half. 

“They keep important players.” Torrent said. “They are the reason NYCFC plays really well. Forget about “Domenec.” Every single coach needs the players for you. I want to thank the players. I love these players.”

He was honest about mistakes. Some were pivotal during this one including that deciding penalty that was the difference. But that is history now as NYCFC goes home and regroups to try and return and go a step further next year. 

“I’ve said in the press conference many times it is about the mistakes,” Torrent said. “It’s about the mistakes. That happened tonight and I think the players deserve more and more, especially in the second half but in the last moment, you know penalty.”  

“For us, the moment was now.” said Johnson. “And it simply wasn’t good enough for a team to go out the way we did and now we’re looking at another offseason.”

; New York City FC forward Heber (9) consoles defender Ronald Matarrita (22) after losing to Toronto FC at CitiField. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

And a brief offseason to plan for that goal of reaching the MLS final. That’s what they play for and if much of this roster is retained, as Johnson said, they will learn from this one.

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