(David Villa – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
New York City FC Captain David Villa showed what a leader does and continued his remarkable play on Saturday night, as he scored two goals to lead NYC FC to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. This was their second win against Montreal, with the first coming on June 13th at Yankee Stadium.
Villa said of the team’s response in this one following the loss to the Red Bulls last Sunday at Yankee Stadium, “We had a difficult week, starting with the derby loss last Sunday, which was tough for the team. The rest of the week wasn’t easy, as we had many injured players. The team responded very well and were able to leave a difficult place with three points.”
NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kreis said of the performance, “It was really critical that the guys dug deep. Sometimes you just need to have guts and work extremely hard for each other and that’s what the guys did tonight. I’m really pleased with the effort and hopefully we’ll be able to move forward.”
Villa’s first goal came in the 35th minute. Laurent Ciman tried clearing the ball from deep in Impact territory, but it was intercepted by Kwadwo Poku, who was making a rare start for NYC. Poku fed the ball to Tommy McNamara, who drove toward the box and got it to Patrick Mullins.
Mullins, who was at the top of the crease with his back toward goal, continued the move to the far left side, sliding the ball to Villa. Villa beat Ambroise Oyongo toward the byline and fired a low shot at the far post that hit the back of the net. NYC FC took their 1-0 lead into the half.
Montreal put a lot of pressure on NYC FC goalie Josh Saunder in the first half, and it continued into the second, as shown by the fact they had 25 shots in the game, with 10 on target.
The Impact was awarded a penalty kick in the 76th minute as NYC FC’s Thomas McNamara was called for a handball. Andres Romero served the ball into the box toward Ignacio Piatti, who was being guarded by McNamara, but his hand made contact with the ball as the referee pointed to the spot.
Piatti took the penalty kick and drilled it into the corner past Saunders to tie the match at 1-1.
It didn’t take NYC FC long to respond. Villa was looking to make something happen in the 82nd minute when he got a pass to Pablo Alvarez, and Villa was taken down just outside the box. The referee waited for any advantage before blowing the whistle to halt play. Villa was awarded a free kick just in front of the crease from about 22 yards away and he beautifully curled it around the wall of the Montreal defense into the low corner at the near post for what would be the match winner.
It was the the NYC Captain’s team-leading eighth goal of the season. Villa earned the second brace (two goals in a game) of his MLS career.Villa has now scored 6 goals in 6 games, and his second in this one was the first free kick scored by New York City FC.
On scoring both goals, Villa said, “As a striker, you need to always try to do the best for your team and in this case score goals. I was able to score two which helped us win, so I’m happy.”
New York City FC notched their fourth win in their last five games and improve to 5-8-5 with 20 points, just three points behind the New York Red Bulls (6-5-6, 23 points) for the sixth and final playoff spot in the MLS Eastern Conference. The Impact fell to 5-7-3 with 18 points, 9th in the East, one point behind Philadelphia.
New York City FC rattled off their third consecutive victory on the road after going 0-4-2 in their first six travels away from Yankee Stadium. The Impact’s four-match home streak was snapped with the loss.
Kreis said of the momentum gained by this victory, “I’m hoping that we can continue forward with this momentum. To know that we now have won four of our last five, there’s a lot of positives to draw from this. The biggest positive we’re going to have to remember is that it takes this kind of effort to win matches in our league.”
Kreis said of the currently dire injury situation, “We’ve been decimated with injuries and came here with no defenders on the bench. If we would have had any sort of injury, we would have been playing people out of position.”
Thomas McNamara said of winning on the road, “We were coming in to get all three points, that’s the mentality we’ve always had when we go to away games. It was not different this game.”
McNamara said of the win in Montreal and what it means, “We did a lot of work early in the season and it took a lot of time to get used to each other and to get comfortable with the style we want to play. I think it’s just finally starting to come to culmination these past few weeks.”
The Club return to the field against Toronto FC on July 12, and it’s a big one as Frank Lampard will finally make his debut for NYC FC. Kickoff is 3 p.m. EDT from Yankee Stadium.