Despite missing a second-half penalty that would have theoretically given them all three points, Toronto FC pulled out a valuable road draw at NYCFC as the score finished level 1-1.
The draw was a fair result, as both sides saw some luck. NYCFC’s goal came just six minutes into the game as Alexandru Mitrita scored a fabulous free-kick from a tough angle straightaway outside the box. Toronto scored just before halftime as Alejandro Pozuelo hit from the penalty spot.
[ MORE: Mitrita scores spectacular free-kick ]
The second half was eventful despite no goals being scored. Pozuelo failed to bag his brace as he again stepped up to the spot, but Sean Johnson was on hand to produce a stunning save as he dove to his left, reaching up and back with his hand to tip the ball away.
Toronto was lucky not to concede at the death as Chris Mavinga whacked Valentin Castellanos right in the face with an outstretched arm while battling for a loose ball in the box, bloodying the NYCFC attacker’s nose. Incredulously, Castellanos was called for a foul just seconds before as he allegedly dragged back Omar Gonzalez despite hardly any contact. Mavinga was not penalized for the obvious contact, and VAR somehow did not flag the incident.
The point pushed Toronto FC up to 42 on the season, moving them to fourth in the Eastern Conference and five points above the playoff cut line with four matches remaining, a valuable distance with the other three playoff teams all within three points. NYCFC, meanwhile, will be disappointed in the dropped points but also they move three points clear of second-placed Philadelphia and six clear of Atlanta United.
While it may not be quite at the level of a Puskas Award, Alexandru Mitrita scored a fabulous free-kick against Toronto FC tonight that may actually be a lot harder than it looks at first glance.
In just the sixth minute, Omar Gonzalez fouled Valentin Castellanos just outside the top of the box, giving NYCFC an early free-kick opportunity. The ball was just inches outside the box and the angle was almost dead center, meaning the opening for a goal from the set-piece was extremely small. A hit too slow and loopy would be easy for the goalkeeper to reach, while too hard would likely see the ball blasted into the wall, which at that angle and distance is covering almost the entire window of opportunity.
Yet somehow, the 24-year-old Romanian international found the right formula, ripping an effort just over the wall’s left edge and past a diving Quentin Westberg into the back of the net.
Free-kick goals from this distance and angle are almost always stunning efforts given the degree of difficulty the positioning presents. Toronto fans may also look at Chris Mavinga, the man on the left edge of the wall who barely even efforts to stop the shot as it whizzes past him, even separating from the wall to give Mitrita the opening. Westberg may also earn some blame for his positioning, sticking himself too far behind the wall and leaving far too much space on the left side of the net, at which Mitrita takes aim.
The goal is the Romanian’s eighth of the season in 25 matches, having joined this past offseason from Romanian club CS Universitatea Craiova. It’s also his second goal in three games after scoring and assisting one each against Vancouver on September 1. Take a bow.
New York City FC attacker Alexandru Mitrita is yet to meet an MLS defense, but so far his skills honed in Romania and Italy are translating nicely.
Mitrita, 24, has scored in a pair of preseason friendlies, the latest a beauty against USL side Nashville SC, as he begins life after Romania’s Liga 1.
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He tortured that league, having been serviceable in a stint with Serie A and B side Pescara.
If his work so far this preseason is any sign, that should continue in Major League Soccer (if he’s not murdered by fouls).
Able to play across the pitch, Mitrita’s latest goal showed that NYCFC is going to have a wealth of attacking options with Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Medina, Maxi Moralrez, and Mitrita.
It’s time to familiarize yourself with Alexandru Mitrita, the 23-year-old Romanian attacker set to help fill the void left by David Villa.
New York City FC announced the reported $9 million purchase of Mitrita from Romanian Liga I club Universitatea Craiova.
[ MORE: Almiron agent unhappy with MLS ]
He has 12 goals and four assists in 16 matches while captaining the Craiovan club this season. Prior to that, he spent two seasons at Pescara in Serie A and Serie B, scoring two goals with six assists.
Mitrita is capped five times by Romania with a single assist. Here’s NYCFC sporting director and USMNT legend Claudio Reyna, via NYCFC.com:
“He comes to New York during a stage in his career where he’s extremely motivated to make the next step after recently breaking into the Romanian national team. He possesses an innate desire to win and is focused on becoming an important player for our Club as we challenge for the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup.
“He was an important player at his previous club and very well-liked by an amazing and loyal fan base. Our fans will immediately notice the personality he carries on the field and they’ll really enjoy watching him play for NYCFC.”
He’s built like Sebastian Giovinco. If he can produce anywhere near the Italian’s level, the signing will be a win for NYCFC.