HARRISON, NEW JERSEY — New York City Football Club had the unenviable task of not just taking on a former member of its squad on Wednesday night, but a club legend who helped to lead it to the greatest achievement in its franchise history. But it was a task that had to be completed nonetheless, and NYCFC put aside those sentiments pretty quickly, and then proceeded to put away a number of chances in front of goal and past their old friend.
Midfielder Santiago Rodriguez scored two of the five goals scored against former NYC goalkeeper Sean Johnson, leading New York City FC to a 5-0 demolition of Toronto FC during group stage play in the Leagues Cup competition at Red Bull Arena. The Cityzens tallied three goals in the first 45 minutes, with their captain, defender Maxime Chanot, putting them in the lead in the 30th minute. New signing Monsef Bakrar scored just before stoppage time to double NYC’s lead before Rodriguez, who was voted Man of the Match, scored right before the halftime whistle to send NYCFC to break three goals to the good.
Andres Jasson scored in the 56th minute before Rodriguez netted his second goal later in the second half to round out the scoring.
After losing in a controversial manner against Liga MX side Atlas last Sunday at Citi Field, when an 87th-minute equalizer from Justin Haak was ruled offside after video review, NYCFC found its tenacity in the form of its offensive transition, playing an extraordinary style of football. Manager Nick Cushing mentioned that his team did not perform well tactically, but was pleased with his team’s attitude during the offensive onslaught.
“I said before tonight, ‘You have to be relentless as a team with the ball and keep creating the chances and the day we become ruthless, we will hurt teams,’” Cushing said. “Today we were ruthless. Ee had eight scoring chances and scored five of them.”
Johnson entered Red Bull Arena tonight preparing to play his first game in the New York City area since his move north of the border after the end of the 2022 season. The Lilburn, Georgia native spent six seasons as the netminder for NYCFC, including the 2021 season where “The Boys In Blue” captured the illustrious MLS Cup. After the game, Toronto FC interim manager Terry Dunfield provided nothing but praise when it came to his goalkeeper.
“We feel very fortunate to have Sean Johnson with us,” Dunfield said. “He’s a winner and if the club is going to get back to where we were from 2016-2018, we need more characters like Sean Johnson in our changing room.”
New York City FC has earned a well-needed break and will not be in action until August 20th when they take on Minnesota United at Citi Field. As for Toronto FC, whose disastrous season has seen it win only three of its 24 league matches this season (3-11-10), it will host Atlas at BMO Field this Sunday in a “win or go home” scenario. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.