Before the match, it was revealed that Ayo Akinola, the breakout star of this MLS Is Back tournament, was forced to pull out with a hamstring problem. This allowed 17 year old Jayden Nelson to make his long-awaited MLS debut.
NYCFC got off to a great start, scoring the game’s opening goal just five minutes in. After a cross in from a free kick, Anton Tinnerholm spotted Jesus Medina in space and made a perfect pass to him. The Paraguayan fired the ball under Quentin Westberg to give his side the lead.
Westberg would make a huge stop to deny Medina a second goal in the 35th minute, standing tall to keep the score at 1-0.
It was a mediocre half from The Reds, and one where they didn’t have many chances to score. Despite being the better of the two teams, NYCFC were only up 1-0 after 45 minutes, leaving Toronto FC with hopes of getting back into the game.
NYCFC would double their lead after the break, however, as Valentin Castellanos found the back of the net in the 55th minute. The Argentine attacker beat Omar Gonzalez to the ball before cutting inside and firing a shot across the goal and past Westberg.
Perhaps too little to late, that prompted a triple-substitution from Greg Vanney, who brought on Jozy Altidore, Erickson Gallardo and Jonathan Osorio for Nick DeLeon, Jayden Nelson and Pablo Piatti, respectively.
Despite Toronto FC’s best efforts, they couldn’t break down a New York team that was better in every area of the pitch. They were defensively sound, strong in midfield, and dangerous up top, and TFC couldn’t handle it.
Maxi Moralez sealed the deal in the the 81st minute, running onto a flick from Heber before calmly slotting the ball past Westberg to put the game out of reach.
Patrick Mullins came off the bench to score a late goal for The Reds, but it was too little, too late, and the match would end 3-1.
New York move onto the quarterfinals of the MLS Is Back tournament, and will play one of FC Cincinnati or Portland Timbers. Toronto FC will have to wait until MLS announces a plan to return to regular season play at some point before they can start planning for their next game.