New York City FC needed three points against Toronto FC to keep their playoff hopes alive. After a water main break postponed Matchday 31 from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, NYCFC took care of business and defeated Toronto 3-0 in a soggy game at Red Bull Arena.
The Boys in Blue now find themselves in a playoff spot going into the final month of the regular season — the hope in New York City is very much alive.
NYCFC looked composed and confident on the ball, resulting in an entertaining 90 minutes. Talles Magno and Mounsef Bakrar were linking up in the attack, Andrés Perea bossed the midfield, and every player did their job on defense. Julián Fernández and Perea scored their first goals for the club, and Andres Jasson continued his strong performances on the wing. Despite the rain, it was a great day for NYCFC — and for those who came out to New Jersey.
NYCFC: 17 shots, 8 shots on target, 52.6% possession, 555 passes, 86% pass accuracy, 11 fouls
Toronto: 10 shots, 4 shots on target, 47.4% possession, 497 passes, 83% pass accuracy, 6 fouls
Getting the show started early
NYCFC came roaring out of the gates, dominating possession in Toronto’s half and looking threatening from the opening whistle. It only took 90 seconds for New York to open the scoring, when Perea headed the ball past Toronto goalkeeper Luka Gavran to score his first goal for the team. Santi Rodríguez found space on the right side and sent in a cross to the back post to Perea, who did well to beat the Toronto defenders. For a player who has been in form since joining NYCFC, the goal was well-deserved for Perea.
New York continued their first-half dominance, with Rodríguez looking sharp in the No 10 spot. It was a delight to see Magno on the wing and playing off Bakrar, as the two looked dangerous linking up with each other. Despite Toronto settling into the game, NYCFC were creating chances.
Jasson would join in on the fun with a goal of his own right before the end of halftime. Rodríguez picked out Jasson inside the box, who turned and finished the ball perfectly in the bottom right corner. Gavran could not do anything about it, and NYCFC was up 2-0. Jasson picked up an assist last week and scored his third goal of the season today. Jasson has been fighting for his spot in the Starting XI — respectfully, he earned it today.
The offense is finally clicking
The 2023 summer transfer window saw leading goal-scorer Gabriel Pereira depart the club. Many fans wondered where the goals would come from the rest of the season, as the team was struggling to have a reliable offense. That question was answered on this day. In a pivotal time of NYCFC’s season, the offense is scoring goals and causing danger. The team created eight shots on goal and looked threatening in every play.
Fernández’s goal today was a prime example of this. Talles Magno played a high ball over the top to Fernández, who used his pace to dribble into Toronto’s box and open up space to shoot on his left foot. Fernández slotted the ball into the bottom left corner and celebrated with a huge smile on his face. A beautiful build-up play resulted in a beautifully worked goal. The 19-year-old showed what he can do and stood out today despite only playing 45 minutes.
The biggest takeaway from the game is Talles Magno’s confident and electric performance on the wing. The 21-year-old has spent the last two months on the bench, and was rumored to leave the club at one point this summer. Talles Magno started today for the first time since July 5, but crucially he was not in the No 9 position.
After all, Talles Magno is a left-winger and is most comfortable there. That was put on display today. Talles Magno did not have to be the center of the attack but instead he was able to dribble, take on defenders, and play the ball into the box. When Talles Magno is able to do this, he is one of the most dangerous players on the pitch.
Defense is rock solid — again
Three clean sheets in three consecutive matches is never an easy feat. Today, Thiago Martins and Birk Risa were calm, cool, and collected. Whether it was winning headers or keeping the ball out of the box, the two center-backs did what was required of them. Tayvon Gray and Kevin O’Toole kept Toronto from playing on the wings and quietly had good games. Despite the departure of Maxime Chanot, the backline looks experienced and solid.
Another huge factor in this is Matt Freese. The goalkeeper has started the last five games, keeping a clean sheet in four of them. Freese did not face much action today, but he did his job when called upon, especially in the 38th minute. Toronto could have leveled the game through Jonathan Osorio, but Freese remained strong and stopped his effort to keep NYCFC in the lead.
Thiago Martins spoke more on the team’s positive defensive performances following the game. Thiago Martins emphasized how the team needs to continue working hard on defense and that the clean sheet was the result of a good performance. Thiago Martins also praised the players in front, like James Sands and Perea, who press up the pitch.
New York now faces a tough road matchup against Lionel Messi and Inter Miami next Saturday. Thiago Martins thinks if the team plays like they did today on defense, they could cause some problems and walk away with a result.
- NYCFC, Andrés Perea, 2′
- NYCFC, Andres Jasson, 45+4′
- NYCFC, Julián Fernández 54′
- NYCFC, Julián Fernández, yellow card, time-wasting 90+2′
- Toronto, Shane O’Neill, yellow card, foul 30′
Attendance: Not announced but it looked low
- Referee: Sergii Boiko
- Assistant referees: Logan Brown, Brian Dunn
- Fourth official: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
- VAR: Edvin Jurisevic
- Ast. VAR: Robert Schaap