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NYCFC tops Columbus 2-0 but fails to advance

Team can’t overcome Tuesday’s 4-1 loss, falls 4-3 in aggregate-goal series

New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring reacts after being

New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring reacts after being eliminated from the MLS playoffs at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 5, 2017. Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato

Needing to score at least three goals to have a chance of surviving its MLS Eastern Conference semifinal series, New York City FC came at the Columbus Crew SC goal in waves last night.

Sometimes it was Rodney Wallace attacking from the left, Jack Harrison from the right, Maxi Moralez up the middle and David Villa all over the place at Yankee Stadium.

It wasn’t enough.

City won the battle behind a 2-0 victory, but fell short as it lost the war — the aggregate-goal series, 4-3 — as it was eliminated in the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

The hosts dug themselves a 4-1 hole during the first-leg loss in Columbus Tuesday.

Coach Patrick Vieira said he was “upset, frustrated, disappointed” with the result before 23,246.

NYCFC’s effort, however, was another matter.

“It was difficult for me to ask for more about the team and players because they gave everything they had tonight,” Vieira said. “I am really proud with the way they played and fought.”

Midfielder Alex Ring concurred.

“With the game we played today, we would have deserved the result we needed,” he said. “The chances were there. I think Columbus knows it themselves they are very lucky today. We messed up in the first leg . . . It’s a tough one to chew on.”

NYCFC forced the issue as its efforts paid off in the 16th minute when Josh Williams took down Wallace in the penalty area as Villa converted the ensuing penalty kick.

It became more interesting in the 53rd minute as defender Andraz Struna drilled a shot that defender Jonathan Mensah headed into his own net.

The elusive third goal never came.

Moralez headed a close-range shot wide left in the 66th minute. A minute later, Harrison bolted down the right flank and was stopped by goalkeeper Zach Steffen. Wallace rammed an eight-yard shot off the left post in the 70th minute.

“We were unlucky enough not to score the third,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said.

In what was likely his final professional match, Italian great Andrea Pirlo replaced Ronald Matarrita in the 90th minute, playing five minutes of stoppage time. He attempted two passes that were too long.

“He’s been a good professional,” Vieira said. “He has been a really good example for the many young players we have. If they behave and conduct themselves like Andrea, I think they will have a good career.”

n Red Bulls out too

The Red Bulls topped Toronto FC 1-0 in an abrasive game Sunday but were unable to notch another tally needed to advance to the MLS Eastern Conference final, losing on away goals after the two-leg series ended tied 2-2 on goals aggregate. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 100th career goal for the sixth-seeded Red Bulls when a long-range shot deflected in off him in the 53rd minute. After falling 2-1 at home on Monday night, the Red Bulls needed to win and score at least two goals Sunday to avoid elimination. — AP

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