New York City moves to MLS top with Toronto draw

New York (AFP) – New York City FC moved to the top of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference standings on Wednesday after extending their unbeaten run to five matches with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Toronto FC. 

City, fresh from a 2-1 victory over champions Portland on Sunday, took the lead through Ghanaian international Kwadwo Poku, the midfielder curling a finish past Clint Irwin on 16 minutes. 

But Toronto hit back just before the break when Will Johnson tapped in from close range after good work from Josh Williams and Mo Babouli.

City coach Patrick Vieira had fielded a new-look starting line-up, with Italian star Andrea Pirlo and Spanish World Cup winner David Villa both left out, having played in Sunday’s win at Portland. 

Villa later entered the fray as a second half substitute and swiftly picked up a yellow card for unsporting behavior. 

Three other City players received cautions along with Toronto’s US international midfielder Michael Bradley. 

The draw leaves City — part of the same group which owns English Premier League side Manchester City — one point clear of Montreal Impact at the top of the Eastern Conference, having played one game more. 

City face the New York Red Bulls in the Big Apple derby on Saturday. The Red Bulls warmed up for this weekend’s showdown with City with a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.

Mike Grella scored the game’s only goal at the Red Bull Arena, finishing after good work from Mike Grella and Bradley Wright-Phillips. 

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