FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — After falling to the New England Revolution, 2-0, New York City FC thought it would have to wait a week top clinch the MLS Eastern Conference crown.
But City got some help from some friends in Ohio as Columbus Crew SC surprised second-place Philadelphia Union in its game.
The results meant that NYCFC (17-6-10, 61 points) earned home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs, plus a first-round bye. They also meant that the team also clinched a spot in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League as it will compete in the continental tournament for the first time in its history.
“A little disappointed not to just do it ourselves and get the three points here,” City defender Sebastien Ibeagha said. “I mean, the goal was still the same no matter how we get it.”
NYCFC, which meets the Philadelphia Union in its regular season finale next Sunday, had its nine-game unbeaten streak snapped as the visitors were forced to play without two key contributors — captain and midfielder Alex Ring (yellow-card suspension) and right back Anton Tinnerholm (concussion).
“Tonight was the time to clinch the first position, but New England played well,” NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent said. “It’s not New York City didn’t play the second team of New England. They deserve to be in the playoffs. We lose, they did a good, good job. We try to draw — not to draw, to win the game — but sometimes it’s almost impossible.”
New England goalkeeper Matt Turner was among the stars of the match for the hosts, who clinched a playoff spot with the win (the Revs are 11-10-12, 45) Turner made two big saves in the second half, Alexandru Mitrita in the 62nd minute and then Heber in the 85th minute.
Teal Bunbury opened the scoring in the 66th minute before Gustavo Bou added an insurance tally, chipping goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 89th minute.