Ismael Tajouri has scored three goals in two games with David Villa sidelined. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — On a day in which it suffered through a dreadful and rather forgettable opening half while missing several key players, New York City FC managed to battle back from one-goal deficits twice to secure a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution.
Forward Ismael Tajouri’s second goal of the match at Foxborough Stadium Saturday afternoon allowed City (3-0-1) to remain unbeaten and walk out of Foxborough Stadium with a point against the Revs (1-1-1).
Tajouri equalized at 2-2 in the 75th minute as fired a pass from Yangel Herrera from the left side of the penalty area past goalkeeper Matt Turner. It was Tajouri’s third goal in two games.
“It was a tough game for us,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira. “Today, we showed a lot of character. Sometimes you show a different aspect of the game and today we managed to get back twice from behind. We showed a lot of determination, a lot character, and this is something positive I picked up from the game.”
City started the game with one foot tied behind its back due to injuries and international call-ups.
The most prominent player among the missing was captain David Villa, who missed last week’s 2-0 home win over Orlando City SC with a calf injury. Head coach Patrick Vieira did not want to take any chances with the lethal striker.
Ditto for defender Anton Tinnerholm, who was sidelined with an ankle injury for the second consecutive week as well.
Defensive midfielder Alex Ring suffered a right knee injury while on international duty with Finland and he is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks. Ebenezer Ofori made his first City start in place of Ring.
Forward Rodney Wallace was on international duty with Costa Rica as Jo Inge Berget made his NYCFC debut at midfield.
And defender Ronald Matarrita, who was called in by Costa Rica for friendlies, was out with a hamstring injury.
With so many new players in the Starting XI, NYCFC experienced major headaches trying to get the ball out of the back and the visitors’ inability to hold the ball for long periods of time finally caught up to them in the 11th minute.
That’s when Diego Fagundez ripped a 24-yard blast off the left post and past a diving goalkeeper Sean Johnson to lift the Revs into a 1-0 edge.
It was the first time NYCFC trailed this season. It also was Fagundez’s second goal of the young season and his fourth career goal vs. City.
Eight minutes later, NYCFC came close to equalizing, but keeper Matt Turner made a spectacular diving save on a turnaround shot by Herrera from distance.
NYCFC continued to give the ball away and almost went down by two goals prior to the halftime whistle.
First, Fagundez sent a close-range shot over the net in the 36th minute before Cristian Penilla powered a shot off the right post three minutes later.
After a halftime talk by head coach Patrick Vieira, NYCFC came out more organized and focused in the second half as it knotted things up at 1-1 off a counterattack.
Saad Abdul-Salaam fed Jesus Medina on the right flank as the midfielder sent Tajouri a spot-on cross. Tajouri then tallied from 10 yards in the 51st minute.
“You can see we have a big mentality,” Tajouri said. “It is not easy to come back and win in New England. We knew that before, but we were able to come back twice. It is very big-time for us to do that. It shows how good we are, and now can focus on the next game.”
Former Red Bulls midfielder-forward and second-half substitute Juan Agudelo broke a 1-1 draw in the 63rd minute, only three minutes after replacing Kelyn Rowe.
Penilla beat center back Alex Callens on the left flank before playing a cross to the far post that Agudelo, between three defenders, headed past Johnson.
“When you look at the goal that he scored, I think the cross, the header, everything was perfect,” Vieira said. “We went through a difficult period during the game. I think some of the period we should have managed better, but overall I was happy with the way we were playing and we were defending. You get a time where there’s not a need to change a player.”
New England Revolution: Matt Turner; Gabriel Somi, Claude Dielna, Jalil Anibaba, Andrew Farrell; Kelyn Rowe (60’ Juan Agudelo), Wilfried Zahibo, Scott Caldwell, Cristian Penilla (77’ Brandon Bye); Diego Fagundez, Teal Bunbury (88’ Luis Caicedo)
SUBS UNUSED: Brad Knighton, Chris Tierney, Antonio Delamea, Zachary Herivaux
New York City FC: Sean Johnson; Ben Sweat, Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Saad Abdul-Salaam; Yangel Herrera, Ebenezer Ofori (87’ Sebastien Ibeagha), Maxi Moralez; Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Jo Inge Berget, Jesus Medina
SUBS UNUSED: Ben Stuver, Anton Tinnerholm, Tommy McNamara, James Sands, Kwame Awuah, Jonathan Lewis
11’ – NE – Diego Fagundez (Assited by: Wilfried Zahibo)
51’ – NYC – Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Assisted by: Saad Abdul-Salaam)
63’ – NE – Juan Agudelo (Assisted by: Cristian Penilla)
75’ – NYC – Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Assisted by: Yangel Herrera)
34’ – NYC – Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (YC – Simulation)
43’ – NE – Scott Caldwell (YC – Persistent Infringement)
70’ – NE – Claude Dielna (YC – Unsporting Behavior)
93’ – NYC – Saad Abdul-Salaam (YC – Unsporting Behavior)