Tommy McNamara seizes opportunity in rare start in NYCFC's 1-1 draw at FCD

FRISCO, Texas – Tommy McNamara was minutes, if not seconds, away from his night coming to a close in Frisco.

But with Miguel Camargo standing on the sideline ready to check in and David Villa lined up to take a free kick in the 68th minute, McNamara gladly sent Camargo back to the bench by bravely diving into the net to head in the equalizer off a ricocheted free kick, helping New York City FC escape FC Dallas with a point and a 1-1 draw on Sunday night.

“At the moment of the free kick, I just thought that if David hits a very good free kick, chances are it’s going on goal, if not in the goal,” McNamara told MLSsoccer.com, saying he didn’t know he was about to be subbed out of the match. “I just wanted to put myself into position in case there was a rebound so I could make a play on the ball, and that’s what happened.”

“I knew that Miguel [Camargo] could get a good finish outside the 18, so I just wanted to get somebody who could be a bit closer to David and link in really tight spaces with David,” added NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira. “I just waited until the free kick, and Tommy was really smart to anticipate and score the goal. I think when you look at the way we played in the second half, Tommy, Maxi [Moralez], and Jack [Harrison] were coming inside, and we gave them a lot of problems.”

It’s been a relatively quiet season for the fourth-year MLS midfielder. After recording five goals and nine assists in 30 appearances and 28 starts last year, he’s made the XI just twice for NYCFC in 2017 and didn't even make the 18 in two of NYC's last three games.

He seized the moment on Sunday, taking full advantage of his chance to start ahead of Yangel Herrera and Andrea Pirlo, who Vieira didn’t include on the gameday roster on Sunday.

“I was happy to be back in the starting lineup again,” McNamara said. “My minutes have been limited to start the year, so it was tough to play kind of like a first game again in this place against this team. But my teammates helped me out a lot. We fought for each other, and for me it’s only going to get better.”

The road point gave NYCFC 17 on the season, putting them in fourth in the East. Earning the result in what FC Dallas dubs “Fortress Frisco,” where the hosts have had the best home record in MLS since 2015, was all the more impressive. McNamara said after the match that it was especially difficult for NYCFC to hold on after their equalizer, with fans rallying the hosts as FCD charged to try to regain their lead.

“It’s a big point. To go down a goal to them and come back and tie the game and take a point, that’s huge for us,” said McNamara, who was eventually subbed out in the 77th minute. “That shows a lot of character on our side, and what speaks even more volumes is that they put a ton of pressure on us. They had a lot of free kicks, a lot of set pieces at the end of the game, and our goalkeeper and defenders stood up to that test.”

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