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New York City FC 1, Philadelphia Union 1 | MLS Match Recap

NEW YORK – Mehdi Ballouchy’s curling shot from 17 yards put New York City FC in front, but C.J. Sapong leveled four minutes from full time for the Philadelphia Union as the teams played to a 1-1 draw Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.

Ballouchy’s brilliance came in the 57th minute in a play started by Javier Calle, who fed Khiry Shelton. The rookie shed a defender to make a diagonal run before sliding the ball to Ballouchy, who took a step with his right before clinically finishing with his left.

Ballouchy started in place of Mix Diskerud, who played 80 minutes for the US national team in a 2-0 win over Mexico Wednesday night in San Antonio, and was booked for shedding his jersey to celebrate his first goal in more than three years. The Moroccan-born midfielder last scored March 31, 2012 when he came off the bench for the New York Red Bulls in a 5-2 win over the Montreal Impact.

Just when it appeared NYCFC (1-2-3) would win for the first time since their home opener against the New England Revolution, Sapong equalized. Cristian Maidana headed down a long ball from the midfield and Sapong pounced, knocking the ball in from seven yards.

Ballouchy nearly had a second in the final seconds of second half stoppage time, but Union goalkeeper John McCarthy did well to dive to his right to parry away the dipping, long-distance shot.

Fernando Aristeguieta had the Union’s best scoring chance of a scoreless first half, but his open attempt from 25 yards out sailed just over the crossbar in the 13th minute.

Making his first MLS start, Shelton troubled the Union throughout with his tremendous pace. In the 23rd minute, the rookie beat Maurice Edu and McCarthy to a ball that he then centered, but Sheanon Williams calmly cleared his cross off the line before an NYCFC player could arrive.

Five minutes later, Adam Nemec latched onto a Calle corner kick, but flicked his header from outside the six-yard box just over the crossbar.

The best scoring chance of the opening 45 minutes came to Ballouchy, who faced an open net following a clever backheel setup by David Villa, but he placed his attempt over the goal in the 28th minute.

Ten minutes later, Shelton again created problems with his pace, once more rounding McCarthy, but his cross following a brief scramble was cleared away for a corner.

In the 73rd minute, Josh Saunders came up big to deny second-half substitute Zach Pfeffer, diving to his left to parry away an open shot from 12 yards.

Three minutes later, Shelton nearly had an insurance goal, but his attempt from the left edge of the 18-yard box bounced just wide of the far post.

In the 81st minute, Sebastien Le Toux missed a chance to equalize for Philadelphia (1-3-3), rolling wide of the far post before Andrew Wenger could catch up to the ball.

Both teams have a short turnaround for their next matches, with NYCFC hosting the Portland Timbers Sunday at 7 pm ET (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes) and the Union returning home for a date with the New England Revolution Sunday at 5 pm ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).

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