Jacob Shaffelburg scored his first MLS goal to lift Toronto FC into a 1-1 tie with New York City FC in MLS play Saturday.
After going ahead early in the second half, NYCFC (2-1-2) lost its way as the game wore on.
Shaffelburg, a 21-year-old from Port Williams, N.S., beat Sean Johnson in the 74th minute with a low shot off a feed from fellow substitute Patrick Mullins to earn Toronto (1-2-2) the point.
There was some bad blood ahead of the Toronto goal, with NYCFC players calling in vain for a foul on midfielder James Sands in the tight confines of Yankee Stadium.
Paraguayan Jesus Medina scored for NYCFC in the 53rd minute, taking advantage of an error by Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono.
Toronto winger Yeferson Soteldo was the danger man in a scoreless first half, asking questions of the right side of the NYCFC defence in tandem with fullback Kemar Lawrence. TFC managed the only two shots on target in the first 45 minutes.
Once again this season TFC was exposed on a set piece when a Gudmundur Thorarinsson free kick handcuffed Bono. The ball hit the turf ahead of goal, kicked up and bounced off the Toronto ‘keeper’s face, allowing Medina to rush in and knock it home for his fourth of the season.
The free kick, from well outside the box, came after Richie Laryea took down an attacker.
Toronto, coming off a 2-0 mid-week win over Columbus, was playing its fourth match in 12 days. The New Yorkers, who drew 1-1 at Orlando City last Saturday, extended their undefeated run to four games (2-0-2).
Toronto coach Chris Armas made three changes from his mid-week starting 11, handing a first start to Lawrence. Jozy Altidore, who scored off the bench against Columbus, and Tsubasa Endoh also slotted in.
Altidore started up front alongside Ayo Akinola in a departure from Armas’s previous 4-2-3-1 formation. Brazil’s Auro shifted from fullback into the midfield alongside captain Michael Bradley in a 4-4-2.
Newly signed forward Dom Dwyer came off the Toronto bench in the 69th minute, quickly making a nuisance of himself in front of the New York goal.
Like many of Toronto’s opponents this season, NYCFC looked to get behind the defence with long balls.
Soteldo, racing past two defenders to make room for a shot from just outside the penalty box, forced a diving save by Johnson in the 11th minute.
It was NYCFC defender Maxime Chanot to the rescue in the 22nd, getting a foot in to stop Akinola from reaching a dangerous low cross from Laryea. Johnson then denied Soteldo again after an NYCFC giveaway.
NYCFC came close in the dying minutes of the half. First Toronto defender Chris Mavinga had to step in to halt a promising New York counterattack. Then Valentin (Taty) Castellanos shot wide after getting the ball in front of goal.
Castellanos looked uncomfortable after it appeared his wrist was stepped on while on the ground in the first half.
New York had a good chance early in the second half, only to see Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s shot miss the target.
Bono made two fine saves in the 65th minute off another free kick, taking a boot to the groin for his troubles.
But Bono’s woes continued in the 70th after his goal kick hit Medina in the back of the head and bounced back into the goal. But Canadian referee David Gantar blew the whistle before the ball entered the goal.
Castellanos came into the game on record scoring pace, one of just five players in league history to score a goal in each of the first four matches of the season. Former U.S. international Brian McBride holds the record with goals in the first five games of the 1998 season.
Castellano, an Argentina under-23 international, signed a new contract this week that runs through 2025.
NYCFC, thanks in part to a 5-0 romp over FC Cincinnati, came into Saturday’s contest with the league’s highest-scoring offence – averaging 2.25 goals a game. The New Yorkers had scored in their last 15 matches, including the playoffs.
But the last team to blank NYCFC was Toronto, in a 1-0 win last September. And TFC had held New York to one or fewer goals allowed in their previous five regular-season meetings, including three clean sheets.
Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo (thigh) missed his ninth straight game for Toronto this season. Veteran fullback Justin Morrow (thigh) and Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio (thigh) also didn’t dress. Midfielder Mark Delgado was held out in what the club called a precautionary move.
NYCFC was without Brazilian forwards Heber (knee) and Thiago (visa) as well as star playmaker Maxi Moralez (quad), Anton Tinnerholm (hamstring) and Alfredo Morales (hamstring). The home side lost defenders Alexander Callens and Chanot to injury in the 13th and 88th minute, respectively.
Toronto plays at Orlando City next Saturday.