New York City had a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time since April but played out a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx.
It was one of those stodgy, scrappy Yankee Stadium games that needed some advanced skill and control to tame the occasion.
Santi Rodriguez and Maxi Moralez always looked the most likely to provide this for New York City, with Ryan Gauld looking most able to steer the Whitecaps in the right direction.
But ball was regularly lost and won and lost and won in midfield and the forwards couldn’t get anything to stick.
Vancouver’s Andrés Cubas appeared to enjoy this situation more than most, battling to win tackles and seeking out interceptions.
Set pieces offered rare breathing space. From free-kicks, Rodriguez fired a shot way off target and Gauld tested Matt Freese at the other end, but in truth, it wasn’t much of a test.
NYCFC tried to be inventive from set pieces but few of them came off, though Santi Rodriguez let off the first shot for the home side from one such situation after a neat flick from Keaton Parks.
Rodriguez and Moralez slowly began to indicate they might be able to take control of the loose ball, and maybe the game.
Moralez showed some of this when Braian Cufre stabbed a ball through to his run to the byline.
Moralez clipped a cross to the far post where Andres Jasson was waiting with the goal gaping, but the 21-year-old, who scored a brilliant opener in the Montreal game last time out, couldn’t control the first-time shot and skied it into the stands.
Moralez showed how to control such a volley just before halftime, but his effort, though well hit, was from further out and saved easily by Yohei Takaoka.
It was a pass from Rodriguez after good work from halftime substitute James Sands that eventually gave some space to center-forward Monsef Bakrar behind the Vancouver defence.
The striker had struggled to connect with the rest of the team for much of the game, but one moment was all that was needed to give NYCFC the lead.
Rodriguez’s ball took out defender Ranko Veselinović and Bakrar placed the ball under Takaoka, not quite cleanly, but it was enough.
Seconds later Vancouver was level after Sands pulled Gauld down in the box. It looked like there had been a foul by Brian White on Birk Risa in the buildup, but the spot kick was given and the in-form Gauld made no mistake.
Gauld had another great chance from a Ryan Raposo cross but headed wide from close range.
New York City head coach Nick Cushing tried something different as the game wore on, withdrawing Bakrar for Richy Ledesma and moving Rodriguez up top.
By this time, Julian Fernandez was also on the field, giving NYCFC’s attack a different look.
Tayvon Gray tried his luck from distance and Cufre missed a header at the far post as the home team threatened.
Vancouver looked to counter-attack and it was they who had the best of the late chances when Sergio Cordova broke through.
He couldn’t get his shot past Freese, though, who saved excellently despite slipping as Cordova approached. The assistant referee flagged for offside but VAR would have allowed the goal had it been scored.
There were to be no back-to-back wins and NYCFC’s frustrating season continues.
Prior to NYCFC’s win against Montreal last time out, the team was on its longest run of home games without a win since the start of 2016.
A couple of games after that run, NYCFC lost 7-0 at Yankee Stadium to local rival New York Red Bulls.
Next up for NYCFC is the Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium in two weeks.