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NYCFC, LAFC play to 2-2 draw at Yankee Stadium

BRONX, N.Y. — Alexandru Mitrita scored his first MLS goal for New York City FC, but Carlos Vela struck for a brace as LAFC twice rallied from deficits during a 2-2 draw Sunday afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 20,339 at Yankee Stadium.

The teams also played to a 2-2 draw at Banc of California Stadium in the first-ever meeting last May. 

But the games were quite different.

“It’s impossible to be similar because of the factor of the field,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “It make for such a different kind of game. Overall, I thought we handled it pretty well. Certainly not our best day of football, but you need a mentality to deal with different factors and I thought that was a plus.”

After a choppy, foul-filled first half hour, Mitrita opened his account in the 39th minute to give NYCFC (0-0-3, 3 points) the lead.

Quick passes from Ebenezer Ofori to Maxi Moralez freed Mitrita down the left wing. The Romanian pumped the breaks in the box and cut inside of a pair of LAFC defenders before finishing high inside the far post.

“It feels good for my first goal at home, but the result is not so good for us,” Mitrita said. “We have time, we have so many games and you have time to learn from mistakes.”

Mitrita nearly had his second goal three minutes later, but put his free kick from nearly 30 yards out off the crossbar.

Vela leveled for LAFC (2-0-1, 7 points) two minutes from halftime, capitalizing on a turnover by Maxime Chanot. Latif Blessing latched onto his errant pass and slipped to Vela, who scored low inside the far post and went with a “home run” celebration at Yankee Stadium.

Mitrita had another chance just past the hour mark when Moralez fed him at the top of the 18-yard box, took a touch and fired a shot that deflected off Danilo Silva for a corner kick.

Mar 17, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Los Angeles FC defender Danilo Silva (6) plays the ball against New York City FC midfielder Alexandru Mitrita (28) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NYCFC took a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute on Alex Ring’s second goal of the year. The sequence started with Valentin Castellanos finding Ben Sweat on a throw-in. Sweat took a touch and Walker Zimmerman tried to guide the ball over the endline. But Sweat reached around and got his foot on it, playing to an open Ring, who hammered home the go-ahead goal.

“I think it’s kind of the theme of MLS since I’ve come here, it always takes three or four games to get into the rhythm,” Ring said. “I think we’ve gotten better game by game, but disappointing to lead twice and then give up points at home of course.”

Vela added his second goal in the 76th minute, this from the penalty spot, sending Sean Johnson the wrong way before saluting the visiting 3252 supporters.

Referee Armando Villarreal pointed to the spot after Sweat looked to clear, but kicked out at Blessing, who went down in the box.

“I think it was not the best in terms of the way we play or the way we control the game,” Vela said. “But always its positive to get points on the road, more on this field and in cold weather. … In the end, one point is fine.”

Because of the way his team played, and the improvements he’s seeing week after week, NYCFC coach Dome Torrent was also pleased with NYCFC’s performance.

“I think it was the best game, for now in this season,” Torrent said. “if you asked me about the performance, by far.”

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