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Leagues Cup

Photo by USA Today

In a match that was postponed from its original start time owing to a thunder storm in the New York City area, the quarterfinals of Leagues Cup eventually rolled on, with New York City FC hosting Pumas at Yankee Stadium. The Liga MX side had impressed last season, reaching the Torneo Guardianes 2020 final, where they lost to fellow Leagues Cup participant Club León over two legs. The hosts, meanwhile, had done well to reach the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, where they came up short against Tigres.

Pumas were making their second trip in as many weeks to the United States, having squared off against Everton in a friendly on July 28, and would be looking to right the ship after a middling start to their Liga MX season which had seen them take only one point from their first three matches. The hosts entered this match in better form, with three wins and two draws in their last five MLS matches, led by a potent attack which hit thirteen goals over that span.

After a cautious start, Jesús Medina came close to opening the scoring, with a rasping shot hitting the bar (5’). The hosts had a strong chance on the counter, with Santiago Rodríguez slipping in Valentín Castellanos, with Julio Gonzázlez doing well to come out of the Pumas goal to keep things level. (13’) NYCFC kept the pressure up, though, with Keaton Parks having a powerful shot blocked behind for a corner (18’) before finding the net moments later (21’) only to have his effort flagged off by VAR.

Pressing their opponents hard in midfield and showing plenty of verve, the hosts badly wanted an opener before the interval, but it wasn’t to be. It wasn’t for lack of trying though, as Castellanos had an effort sail over the bar (37’). As halftime neared, though, Pumas began to get to grips with the game, and showed more enterprise, even if they didn’t have a clear sight on Sean Johnson’s goal, as the teams headed back to the locker room without a goal.

Ronny Deila’s side offered more of the same after halftime, with Gudmundur Thórarinsson (46’) nearly find the net after a fine touch by Medina. The hosts would even have the ball in the net again through Rodríguez on the counter but VAR spotted a handball which would see it chalked off. On the hour, though, NYC had their breakthrough, as Valentín Castellanos slotted home from a Maxi Morález corner. (61’)

Morález would continue to lead the charge for the hosts, the Argentine firing over from a good position minutes later (67’). Pumas had weathered the storm, though, and a change from manager Andrés Lillini would be decisive, with the Brazilian Rogério finding the net on the turn with just under twenty minutes to play (71’). NYCFC responded, though, looking for the winner as the match stretched towards one o’clock in the morning but the next strong chance fell for Cristian Battochio, another substitute, as Sean Johnson did well to keep the match level.

A final chance for Castellanos in stoppage time (92’) went just wide and the match was headed to penalties! Sean Johnson made some fine saves to start the shootout before José Galindo leveled ahead of sudden death. Morález was denied by GEICO Man of the Match winner Julio González before Sebastian Saucedo sent Pumas into the semifinals with the last kick of the game, where they’re set to face Club León next month.

Match details:

Leagues Cup Quarterfinal

New York City FC 1-1 Pumas (2-3 pen.)

Halftime: 0-0

Goals:  New York City FC: Castellanos (61’); Pumas: Rogério (71’)

Bookings: New York City FC: Castellanos (53’) Pumas: Moreno (17’)

New York City FC: Johnson; Acevedo (Morales 84’), Gray (Gloster 88’), Callens, Thórarinsson; Sands, Parks; Morález, Rodríguez (Thiago 82’), Medina (Tajouri-Shradi 82’); Castellanos

Substitutes: Barraza, Thiago, Morales, Zelalem, Tajouri-Shradi, Rocha, Gloster, Amundsen, Haak, Magno, Jasson, Latinovich

Manager: Ronny Deila

Pumas: González; Mozo, Galindo, Velarde, Rodríguez (Battocchio 46’); Meritão, López (Lira 74’); F. Álvarez (Corozo 69’), Montejano (Saucedo 46’), Cruz; Dinenno (Rogério 57’)

Substitutes: Paz, Torres, Battocchio, Rogério, Saucedo, Corozo, Lira, Am. García, M. García, Barragán, A. Álvarez, Án. Garcia

Manager: Andrés Lillini