Aug 4, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York City defender Ronald Matarrita (22) fights with Vancouver Whitecaps forward Bernie Ibini-Isei (7) or the ball in front of midfielder Ismael Tajouri (29) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Bronx, N.Y. — Little used Erik Hurtado scored in the 87th minute off a precise cross from Brek Shea, and the Vancouver Whitecaps rallied for an unpredictable 2-2 draw with New York City FC in front of an announced crowd of 20,802 at Yankee Stadium.
The result spoiled the debut of NYCFC forward Valentín Castellanos, whose goal less than a minute into the second half gave the home side a 2-1 advantage. The 19-year old from Argentina was signed during the summer transfer window from sister club Atlético Torque in Uruguay. He earned a spot in the starting XI after just three training sessions with his club.
“The last two training sessions he was amazing.” NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent told Pro Soccer USA before the match. “The most important thing is when the coach believes in the player, and I think he’s ready to play. Especially against Vancouver, we wanted to play a little bit different with the wingers wide, and he has these qualities.”
Castellanos grew into the match and managed four shots on goal. Just one of those was on frame — his first NYCFC goal.
Vancouver forward Nicolas Mesquite opened the scoring in the 22nd minute on the Whitecaps’ first shot on goal. His driven shot from distance took the NYCFC defenders by surprise and stayed close to the ground to beat diving goalkeeper Brad Stuver.
Stuver made his first regular-season start for NYCFC (13-5-5, 44 points) and his first MLS appearance since Oct. 23, 2016 for Columbus Crew SC. Regular keeper Sean Johnson sustained a shoulder injury midweek in training and is expected to be out six to eight days, according to Torrent.
In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, Anton Tinnerholm drove the ball to the end line and left Russell Teibert sprawling on a cut-back move to set up Jesus Medina’s fifth goal of the season and fourth in the last five contests. Medina finished his right-footed shot from 12 yards out, and it skirted between the legs of both defender Aly Ghazal and keeper Stefan Marinovic. The goal tied the score at 1-1.
Castellanos departed in the 65th minute, hoping to get credit for a game-winning goal in his debut, but Hurtado prevented any postgame celebration in the Bronx with his second goal of the season in just his fourth appearance.
“Honestly, I was just doing my job,” Hurtado said.
NYCFC dominated in all statistical areas with 22 shots on goal compared to eight for Vancouver. City amassed 13 corner kicks, while the Whitecaps registered a pair. New York City held possession for 72 percent of the match.
With the draw, New York City FC extended its franchise record to 14 matches without a home loss. NYCFC remains four points behind Eastern Conference leaders Atlanta United. The Whitecaps pulled to within a point of the sixth and final playoff position in the Western Conference.