Until the 84th minute, both sides looked like they were going to rue splitting points on a rain-soaked Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. Then Jack Harrison stepped up and grabbed all three points for a depleted New York City FC side still trying to keep the Supporters' Shield race alive down the regular-season stretch.
Harrison's far-post bouncer, on an assist from RJ Allen, delivered a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City, pulling NYCFC -- who extended their unbeaten streak to five matches -- within six points of Toronto FC in the East and Shield standings.
The victory was NYCFC's first in three tries against Sporting, and Harrison's goal was the first for the Citizens in the series.
Sporting could have retaken the Western Conference lead with a victory against a home side depleted by injuries and international absence, but stayed in third place -- two points behind Seattle and one back of Portland -- with the loss.
- 84' - NYCFC - Jack Harrison (WATCH)
- BAD BOUNCES MADE MOOT: Before Harrison’s winner, NYCFC had good cause to feel hard done by the woodwork – and their own unlucky positioning. In the 54th minute, Sean Okoli put a shot off the post – and in the 65th, Maxi Moralez shot toward the open far corner, only to see his shot go between Okoli’s legs and then deflect off teammate Khiry Shelton just inches away from the goal.
- PIRLO RETURNS TO THE PARTY: With NYCFC hit hard by injuries and international absences, out-of-favor Andrea Pirlo made his first start in midfield since a 4-0 loss at Toronto FC on July 30. Pirlo (who benefitted from a lack of defensive pressure from the visitors and the deliberate pace of the match) went the full 90 and was largely effective in distribution, raising the possibility that he might still have a role to play in the closing weeks of the regular season.
- MORE RUSTY THAN RESTED: Sporting hadn't played since Aug. 19's 2-0 home victory over FC Dallas, after a planned trip to Houston was postponed by Hurricane Harvey. They didn't look their usual high-tempo selves in the rain on Wednesday night -- and the loss left them still looking for their first back-to-back victories since April 29-May 3.
- NYCFC: vs. Portland Timbers, Saturday, Sept. 9, 5:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE)
- SKC: at Columbus Crew SC, Sunday, Sept. 10, 1 pm ET (ESPN)