Tommy McNamara and his NYCFC teammates celebrate his 19th-minute goal. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports)
COMMERCE CITY, Colo — If New York City FC fails to finish in second place in the Eastern Conference, the team probably will look at Saturday night’s match to blame.
City saw two points fly out the window as it surrendered an 88th-minute goal by Dominique Badji to lift the Colorado Rapids into a 1-1 draw at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.
The Rapids (7-16-5, 26 points) own the worst Major League Soccer record of all 22 teams while NYCFC (15-8-6, 51) failed in its second attempt to reach 16 wins in a season for the first time in franchise history.
NYCFC was in a position to lost ground to first-place Toronto FC (59), which played at the LA Galaxy later in the evening. While the visitors could not take a significant step towards Toronto, they saw their second-place lead over the Chicago Fire (14-9-6, 48) dwindle to three points after the Windy City team recorded a 3-0 win over Eastern Conference cellar dweller D.C. United.
Tommy McNamara, the NYCFC captain for the third consecutive match, gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute, taking advantage of a ton of room given by the Rapids and advancing to the top of the penalty area, where he drilled a shot past goalkeeper Tim Howard and into the top corner of the net.
City goalkeeper Sean Johnson was spectacular for the second successive match. He produced several vital saves, although none was more important than the one made on second-half substitute Alan Gordon in the 84th minute. Gordon worked his way 1 v 1 on Johnson, who kicked away his attempt from point-blank
However, Badji took a brilliant run through the defense on the left side and fired a shot from the top of the penalty area past Johnson for a stunning tie.
NYCFC could have doubled and even tripled their lead with several close encounters.
Midfielder Andrea Pirlo cracked a long free kick off the crossbar in the 23rd minute and defender Ben Sweat was denied twice by Howard within seconds in the 84th minute.
Defensive midfielder James Sands, a 17-year-old from Rye, N.Y., made his professional debut in the 67th minute, replacing Pirlo.
David Villa, who missed the last two games with an addcutor injury, also played for the first time in two weeks, subbing for Khiry Shelton in the 72nd minute.