The game in 100 words (or
less more): New York City FC, trailing 4-1, had the steepest of hills to climb during Sunday’s Eastern Conference semifinals second leg against Columbus Crew SC. Thanks to another star performance from David Villa, Patrick Vieira’s side so nearly did the unthinkable, but ultimately fell a goal short, winning 2-0 on the day, but falling 4-3 on aggregate. It wasn’t for a lack of chances either, as NYCFC peppered Zack Steffen’s goal to the tune of 16 shots (6 target, plus another that smashed the post late in the second half). Villa gave the home side a real belief when he converted from the penalty spot in the 16th minute, but Columbus held firm another 37 minutes before conceding again, to Andraz Struna. Crew SC will host Toronto FC, the 2017 Supporters’ Shield winners, in the first leg of the East finals on Nov. 21. Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium is expected to be the final appearance of Andrea Pirlo’s illustrious career after the Italian legend announced last month that he’ll retire at season’s end.
[ MORE: 3 keys to Sunday’s 2nd legs ]
Three moments that mattered
16′ — Villa converts from the spot to make it 4-2 — Josh Williams tripped Rodney Wallace in a largely inconsequential part of the penalty area, and Villa converted the spot kick to pull NYCFC to within two goals on aggregate.
53′ — Struna’s shot deflected past Steffen for 4-3 — Eerily similar to Daniel Royer’s goal for the New York Red Bulls earlier on Sunday, Struna did little more than hit this one into a sea of bodies and come up lucky.
70′ — Wallace does everything right… except hitting the post — From three goals down, to within an inch or two of making it 4-4 and advancing to the conference finals on away goals — it’s the thinnest of margins.
Man of the match: Yangel Herrera
Goalscorers: Villa (16′ – PK), Struna (53′)