NEW YORK—New York City FC entered the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs as the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed, guaranteed a spot in the Semifinals, and a home game at Yankee Stadium to cap their postseason debut.
But a crushing defeat to Toronto FC left them attempting to describe how a successful season so quickly slipped away, virtually a fruitless task.
The magnitude of the scoreline – Sunday's 5-0 loss, and an MLS postseason record 7-0 aggregate – dictates a broader perspective and a tip of the cap.
“It’s not about one thing or two things, it’s not about giving up a lot of goals or score a lot of goals,” said NYCFC captain David Villa. “Everything is bad, and we play against a better team than us in this round.”
After a 2-0 loss in the opening leg last Sunday at BMO Field, the task was always going to be difficult, especially to not concede the all-important away goal.
“I think the early goal just kind of hurt us and put us on our heels,” said defender RJ Allen. “We were up against it after that.”
When Giovinco added his second from the penalty spot on 20 minutes, the ask for NYCFC became too much.
“There’s not a lot to talk about. They were clearly much better than us,” said midfielder Andoni Iraola. “We thought it would be much better if we scored first and put pressure on them, but once they scored their first and second goal it was very difficult to turn around the game.”
Indeed, TFC dominated the midfield in both legs and their attacking players punished the NYCFC defenders.
Giovinco, a snub for MLS MVP, showed his class with a hat trick, to send Toronto FC through to the Eastern Conference Championship against Montreal Impact. For NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira, the blame for Giovinco’s triple was shared.
“I don’t want to blame our back four, goalkeeper or individual players,” he said. “I think as a team we didn’t defend well at all. When you don’t defend well at all you expose yourself and when you expose yourself quality players like Giovinco express their talent.”
That the deficit was so great in the final game of the season – in front of a crowd of 28,355, many of whom in the supporters’ sections staying until the bitter end – made things that much more difficult for Villa.
“When I go home, it’s difficult today for me to sleep because we lost 5-0,” Villa said. “But I will try to sleep with a steady conscience because I gave 100 percent in every time of my life for NYCFC. Of course, today I wanted to score a hat trick like Giovinco and give the victory to my team, but I couldn't.”