Alexander Callens hammered home the final penalty kick to seal NYCFC's win and eliminate the record-breaking Supporters' Shield winners. The No. 4 seed had led for six minutes in regulation time and nine minutes of extra time in an enthralling and dramatic Conference Semifinal at the No. 1 seed.
Valentin Castellanos and Santiago Rodriguez scored for the visitors in their second match of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. But Castellanos was sent off for receiving his second yellow card offense four minutes after heading in his second postseason goal in the 109th minute, ensuring he'll miss this weekend's trip to Philadelphia Union to decide the East's MLS Cup representative.
With right back Tayvon Gray appearing to suffer a leg injury, and NYCFC exhausting all of their substitution windows, the visitors were effectively reduced to nine men. That helped the hosts equalize a second time, when Tajon Buchanan volleyed in Emmanuel Boateng's cross in the 118th minute.
Buksa scored New England's first equalizer 109 minutes earlier on Carles Gil's free-kick service to answer Rodriguez's side-footed snap finish.
But NYCFC had the larger share of chances over 120 minutes and were deserving to advance against New England, which failed in their bid to become the eighth Supporters' Shield winners to also capture MLS Cup.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Now that they have their Eastern Conference Final date, NYCFC manager Ronny Deila may have to exercise some creative personnel management to field his starting XI against the Philadelphia Union. Castellanos will be suspended and James Sands also left the game in the second half with an injury, adding to NYCFC's woes at holding midfield. For New England, it's more heartbreak despite obtaining a record-breaking 73 points in the regular season. How much did their 23-day layoff and Round One bye hurt?
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Callens, a center back, pounded the net with a forward's confidence on the final PK, setting off a wild celebration for the visitors.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Santiago Rodriguez. His early goal set the tone for the evening, even if New England equalized soon after. He forced Matt Turner into one of his more difficult second-half saves, made four key passes and won more than half of his 18 contested duels.
- NE: End of 2021 season
- NYC: Eastern Conference Final at Philadelphia Union | Sunday, Dec. 5 (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes)