NYCFC upset Revs in shootout, reach East final for 1st time
New York, Dec 1, 2021 (AFP) - Goalkeeper Sean Johnson was the hero as New York City FC upset the top-seeded New England Revolution in a penalty shoot-out Tuesday to advance to Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference finals.
Johnson produced a superb stop from New England's Polish striker Adam Buksa before Alex Callens lashed home the winning spot-kick to complete a 5-3 shoot-out win after the sides finished extra time locked at 2-2.
The win means fourth-seeded New York will face the Philadelphia Union on Sunday for a place in MLS's championship game against either the Portland Timbers or Real Salt Lake, who meet in the Western Conference final on Saturday.
An enthralling game went to penalties after a dramatic period of extra-time, which saw Argentine striker Valentin Castellanos fire New York into a 2-1 lead in the 109th minute to put his side seemingly on course for victory.
But the game changed just four minutes later when Castellanos was sent off after earning a second yellow card for a mistimed lunge on Revs defender Brandon Bye -- a red card that means he will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia.
That flashpoint changed the complexion of the contest, and as New England poured forward searching for an equalizer, Canadian international Tajon Buchanan lashed home a 118th-minute volley to tie it at 2-2.
There was still time for New England to almost grab victory, but Johnson tipped over a shot from Buksa to ensure the game went to penalties.
Earlier, the match had gone to extra time after both sides finished 90 minutes level at 1-1.
New York dominated possession throughout regulation, with the movement of their skillful all South-American forward line of Santiago Rodriguez, Maxi Moralez, Jesus Medina and Castellanos causing problems for the New England defence.
City's incisive attacking play was rewarded after just three minutes, when a deft pass from Paraguay international Medina released teenager full-back Tayvon Gray down the right hand side. The 19-year-old's cross found Rodriguez in space and the Uruguayan swept home an emphatic finish.
But New England equalized barely five minutes later, when Buksa slipped his marker to head home Carles Gil's free-kick from the right.
New York dominated the remainder of the game for long periods though, and cranked up the pressure in the second half.
Castellanos should have won it in the 90th minute but mis-controlled a pass from Medina with the goal at his mercy to send the game into extra time.