Bloodied Castellanos becomes focal point in wild NYCFC-Toronto draw

The story of New York City FC's 1-1 draw against Toronto FC Wednesday at Yankee Stadium was the calls made along the way. And the calls that were not made.

Referee Chris Penso whistled two penalties for TFC (one converted), while NYCFC's goal came off a free kick. But the flashpoint for the game was in second-half stoppage time, in a sequence that left NYCFC forward Valentin Castellanos bleeding profusely from his nose.

Castellanos and Toronto defender Chris Mavinga got tangled up in a pursuit in Toronto's box. Castellanos took a touch on a long ball over the top with his head, and was blocked from running onto it by another Toronto defender Omar Gonzalez. Mavinga was in position to take possession, and Castellanos pulled on his jersey from behind. Mavinga then hit Castellanos in the face with a wayward hand, and both players were sent sprawling, Castellanos bleeding.

While it looked like Castellanos could earn a penalty and a red card for the contact sustained, Penso in fact whistled the foul on Castellanos for the jersey tug, and the officiating crew explained in writing after the match to pool reporter Dylan Butler that Castellanos' injury was sustained when play was dead.

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"The action by Mavinga was reckless and disregarded the danger to or consequences for, the opponent. Mavinga did not use excessive force or brutality when swinging his arm," the officials explained as to why Mavinga did not merit a red card and was instead shown a yellow card.

"Castellanos was whistled for a holding foul. Immediately after the whistle had blown and while the ball was not in play, Mavinga swung his arm in a reckless manner. Mavinga was cautioned for unsporting behavior and play restarted with a direct free kick for Toronto. A penalty kick cannot be awarded for an offense that occurs while the ball is not in play," the response continued.

The draw extended each team's unbeaten run in league play to six games. While NYCFC entered on a five-game winning streak, head coach Dome Torrent was pleased with the recent points output.

"I am happy because in the last six games of 18 points we got 16 points...It is good news for us, that is the reason now that we are in the top of the [Eastern Conference] and we will try to finish in the first position," he told reporters after the match.

His counterpart, TFC head coach Greg Vanney, reflected his team's disappointment at failing to get a vital win for their Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs hopes.

"The guys are disappointed they didn’t take three out of this," he said. "Again, another sign of where we are at. I’m happy with the effort, I’m happy with, by and large, the performance, and we just needed to execute that one or two more times when we had some really good looks.”


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