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New York City FC 2, Toronto FC 2 | 2016 MLS Match Recap

Reigning MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco led Toronto FC on a fierce rally from a 2-0 deficit to snatch a hard-earned 2-2 draw vs. New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Sunday evening.

The Italian set up a Damien Perquis set-piece goal just before halftime and netted a gorgeous left-footed strike of his own in the 76th minute to cancel out a furious start by the home side, who fielded an unexpected 3-4-3 formation and stormed out to an early advantage via a David Villa brace.

NYCFC's Spanish Designated Player opened the scoring from the spot in the 24th minute, stroking a calm penalty-kick finish into the lower left corner to leave TFC goalkeeper Clint Irwin with no chance after Tommy McNamara had been fouled in the box.

Villa struck again in more contentious circumstances just four minutes later, latching onto a loose ball inside the six-yard area after an Andrea Pirlo free kick sparked havoc in the Toronto goalmouth. Replays suggested that the ball had hit Villa's arm before he dispatched his effort from short range, but referee Alan Kelly allowed play to continue.

But the Reds cut the deficit with a crucial goal just before halftime, as Giovinco laid a teasing set piece across the face of Josh Saunders' goal that was deflected home by a sliding Perquis. And the visitors grabbed their share of the points with yet another fine solo run and finish by Giovinco as NYCFC faded noticeably in the second half.

Box Score

Three Things

1. TACTICAL WRINKLE: NYCFC raised eyebrows by starting this match with a three-man backline and an overall formation dubbed a 3-4-3 or a 3-2-4-1, depending on your perspective. It worked like a charm for most of the first 45 minutes as the Cityzens ran riot in Yankee Stadium's tight confines, controlling possession and stretching a passive TFC side repeatedly. The Reds adapted well in the second half, but Patrick Vieira may have found a useful way to make trips to the Bronx more difficult for opposing teams.

2. ATOMIC ANT, AGAIN: Giovinco shows no signs of slowing down in year two of his MLS adventure. Despite being widely recognized as the most dangerous individual player in the league, he continues to carve chances out of nothing, even in 1v3 and 1v4 situations. When the chips were down on Sunday, TFC could count on Seba chasing after even lost causes and hopeful clearances. His skills help the Reds defense weather fierce storms of opposing pressure. 

3. DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Where will Frank Lampard fit into this NYCFC XI once he regains full health and match fitness? It's just as tough to answer now as it was a month ago. McNamara set the stage for Villa's first goal and Diskerud played a role in his second, while Pirlo and Federico Bravo looked like a promising partnership in deep midfield. Vieira has plenty to think about in the weeks ahead. 

They Said It

"It was a big moment. It gave us an opportunity heading into the half."

- Damien Perquis, TFC center back, on his goal in first-half injury time

Next Up

  • NYC: Friday 3/18 vs. Orlando (7 pm ET, UniMás, MLS LIVE)
  • TOR: Sunday 3/20 at Colorado (7 pm ET, FS1, TSN2, MLS LIVE)
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