NYCFC's Vieira praises Poku, Mullins in Toronto: "We managed it quite well"

TORONTO – New York City FC's winning streak came to an end at BMO Field on Wednesday night. But sometimes a draw is good enough, especially given adverse circumstances and near-wholesale changes to the starting 11. 

“We didn’t play our best game,” admitted coach Patrick Vieira after the 1-1 draw against Toronto FC. “When you make so many changes, I knew it would be quite difficult against one of the best sides in the league. And [those] players don’t play enough, it is always difficult. We managed it quite well, we didn’t concede too much, and we didn’t create much as well. I think the draw is a fair point for both teams.”

NYCFC arrived in Toronto straight from a huge win in Portland on Sunday, and with one eye on this weekend's mouth-watering New York Derby against against the Red Bulls (Saturday, 3 pm ET; FOX).

With that congestion in mind, Vieira opted to give several first-choice starters a rest, running out a side that featured Patrick Mullins and Kwadwo Poku, to name but a few of his many changes.

“They did well,” said Vieira of the pair. “I was expecting them to work hard and I knew that physically it would be difficult for them because they didn’t have the rhythm of the game. But I was really pleased, especially with Patrick. it wasn’t easy for a No. 9 to do what I asked. But he put his head up and he worked hard for the team and I was really pleased with his performance.”

Mullins battled with the TFC back line throughout the match, collecting a booking for numerous indiscretions after just 19 minutes. Meanwhile, Poku scored a beautiful goal to open the scoring – his first of the year – collecting Mullins' flicked header off a Steven Mendoza cross before tucking a wonderful effort into the top corner beyond the reach of Reds goalkeeper Clint Irwin.

With the Toronto region home to a massive Italian diaspora, some of the fans at BMO Field may have been disappointed not to see Andrea Pirlo take to the pitch – though they were treated to a cameo from David Villa.

“It was just rotation,” Vieira assured those back home. “With the traveling, I needed to.”

Said Mullins, a veteran of MLS travel by now: “They're getting used to [the travel in MLS].  We handled it as well as you could have expected. You have a full roster for these specific types of trips and make sure you are ready to step in when your number is called.”