It looks like a wrestling match, but Erik Hurtado celebrates his equalizing goal with Vancouver teammate Yordy Reyna. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
BRONX — After Atlanta United played to a 2-2 home draw with Toronto FC Saturday, New York City FC found itself in a great position to move closer to the Eastern Conference leaders.
It didn’t happen.
Everything stayed the same as City played to a 2-2 tie itself against a Canadian side, against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Yankee Stadium later that night.
Erik Hurtado’s goal in the 87th minute spoiled NYCFC’s evening before a crowd of 20,802.
The result kept second-place NYCFC (13-5-5, 44 points) four points behind Atlanta (14-4-6, 48) in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls (13-6-2, 41), who host Los Angeles Football Club Sunday, could pull even with City with a win. Vancouver, which is in seventh place in the Western Conference, moved to 8-9-6 and 30 points.
NYCFC has a 14-game unbeaten streak at home dating back to last season.
“I think the second half we came out and we played better,” NYCFC head coach Domenec Torrent said. “We had plenty of chances, but we missed the opportunity to secure the match. … We did not deserve to tie the game, but we were also unable to score more goals.”
Torrent said he did not switch his strategy after watching the Atlanta match.
“We wanted to play 4-3-3 and nothing changed,” he said. “When you play football, it doesn’t depend on the result [of other matches]. We want to play with five attacking players … I think in 20 minutes we played really well but after that it was the same the last three games.”
Nicolas Mezquida lifted the visitors into the lead in the 22nd minute as he fired a shot from the edge of the penalty area past goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who made his first start in place of the injured Sean Johnson (shoulder).
City, however, equalized on either side of halftime, one quite late in the opening half, the other in the opening minute of the second half.
“We were recoveringm” Stuver said. “They had numbers up on us and we were kind of retreating. I think as a group, we retreated too far, let them get to the top of the 18 and once he gets to shooting range I think we just need to step – and it starts with me communicating and just overall, it’s something we can fix for next time and it’s a good learning moment for all of us.”
Jesus Medina equalized a minute into stoppage time. Defender Anton Tinnerholm cut in from the byline and picked out Medina, who had the presence of mind to take an extra touch to draw the challenge from a defender, before stepping around and firing under goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.
Only a minute into the second half, Argentine forward Valentin Castellanos, making his City debut while on loan from CA Torque lifted the hosts into the lead as he slotted home a Jo Inge Berget cross for a 2-1 margin.
That lead, however, wouldn’t last as Hurtado found the tying goal with three minutes to spare as he volleyed home a Brek Shea feed at the back post to grab a precious road point and deny the hosts two more.
“They made three key subs,” Stuver said. “They brought on Alphonso Davies, Yordy Reyna and Hurtado. All three of them brought in some quality and pace at that stage of the game. It’s very difficult for us to change because they weren’t really pressing in the first half, then all of a sudden they put in the three speedsters and everything changes. They’re pressing every ball, they’re going after everything. It kind of looked like we were shell-shocked by the speed for a second. It happens but at the end of the day we just need to bounce back.”