HARRISON, N.J. — A draw was more of a moral victory for New York City FC Friday night.
Despite being outplayed by the Red Bulls from start to finish, NYCFC managed to walk out of Red Bull Arena with a 1-1 tie.
It was far from the most memorable performance from City this season as it escaped with a road point in the first draw in the three-year-old Hudson River Derby, which has spanned 10 games.
“I will take the points. I’m really happy with the points,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “We played against a really good team that made it difficult for us “
NYCFC (14-7-5, 47 points), which won the season series, 2-0-1, failed to keep pace with Eastern Conference leader Toronto FC (15-3-8, 53), which registered a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night.
Argentine players stole the scoring spotlight with Maxi Moralez connecting first or NYCFC and second-half sub Gonzalo Veron converting a penalty kick after a dubious call for the fourth-place Red Bulls (12-10-3, 36).
The Red Bulls enjoyed greater ball possession, holding it for 61.6 percent of the time, outshot the visitors, 21-9, and hit the woodwork twice as NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson acquitted himself well to make three saves.
“A draw feels like a big disappointment because of the way we played and dominated the match,” Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said. “A lot of guys were really disappointed in the locker room. We were the better team for major stretches and we didn’t capitalize.”
Moralez scored against the run of play in the 56th minute as he slotted home a beautiful back-heel pass from David Villa from 12 yards past goalkeeper Luis Robles for his fourth goal of the season.
“It’s a funny game sometimes,” Marsch said. “How many sports does a team dominate and be down 1-0?”
The Red Bulls equalized on a 70th-minute penalty kick after a soft call by referee Jair Marrufo. He ruled that defender RJ Allen had knocked down Sacha Kljestan in the penalty area, although it appeared the Red Bulls’ star midfielder went down too easy.
“It was really smart,” Vieira said. “He fooled the referee. It wasn’t a penalty at all.”
Veron, who replaced Sean Davis in the 64th minute, converted the ensuing PK past Johnson for a 1-1 deadlock.
“They came in and sat so deep,” Marsch said. “I don’t recall them sitting so deep ever. They had a lot of respect for us.”