COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — New York City FC was one frustrated side walking off the field at Dicks Sporting Goods Park Saturday night.
The visitors allowed the lowly Colorado Rapids to equalize in the 88th minute and left two valuable points on the table as City settled for a 1-1 draw.
“When you’re winning 1-0 and there’s just five minutes left and you concede a goal, there’s a lot of frustration from our side,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said.
The draw allowed the Chicago Fire, 3-0 winners over D.C. United, to move within three points of second-place NYCFC with five games remaining in the season.
Vieira was encouraged by the play of midfielder Tommy McNamara, who scored his second goal in three games without David Villa in the Starting XI. McNamara has captained the team in Villa’s absence.
“When you look at the beginning of the season, it was really tough for Tommy, because he didn’t play a lot,” Vieira said. “But he has kept his head happy. Every time in training and every time he had an opportunity to play, he delivered and tonight he scored a fantastic goal.”
Midfielder James Sands, 17, of Rye, N.Y. made his Major League debut, replacing Andrea Pirlo in the second half. Vieira liked what he saw.
“I think it was a great first game to get involved and that will make him better,” he said. “It was a good experience for him. He is an important player for our football club and we want to play him in the right way.”
Pirlo started for the third consecutive match. Vieira thought he played well.
“As a team, especially in the first half, we played quite well,” Vieira said. “We managed to control the game and we managed to control the possession. When we play here in Colorado, when you go past the hour, there are some players who get maybe a bit more tired and we need to move other players around. This is why I decided to put in some fresh legs. But when you look at the minutes he played, I think [Pirlo] had a good game.”