(David Villa getting by Orlando defenders – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
David Villa had another performance worthy of a captain at Yankee Stadium, with another two-goal performance to lead New York City Football Club past Orlando City 5-3 on Sunday afternoon.
NYC FC midfielder Thomas McNamara being the spark for this team, “You saw what he did today. He’s got a ton of quality as well. He’s our captain, he sets the tone, we look up to him as well and he kind of sets the tone for us.”
McNamara said of the offense being very strong of late, “We’ve been finishing our chances. David’s been a huge part of it, obviously. He’s been playing extremely well offensively, been carrying this team a lot of this year, and we’re kind of all just playing off of that. He takes the leadership role in that department, you saw the two goals today, we play off of him.”
Villa broke through just before halftime after being bottled up for most of the first half. He was battling Orlando City defender Seb Hines for position at the top of the box and warded him away to get off a shot and he drilled it to make it 1-0 NYC FC in the 46th minute.
It didn’t take long for Orlando City to respond in the second half, as they took advantage of a NYC FC breakdown at the center of the field, and Cyle Larin came down the right side and sent it to the top right corner of the net to tie it at 1.
NYC FC responded a few minutes later when they took possession deep in Orlando territory. Thomas McNamara took it along the right side and went nearly to the baseline before firing a swooping pass into the center of the crease to Javier Calle, who buried it to make it 2-1 NYC.
In the 57th minute, NYC FC’s newest acquisition, Andrea Pirlo, took the field to a standing ovation from the crowd of 32,041.
Pirlo entering didn’t faze Orlando, as Calle was at it again, coming down the right side by NYC FC defenders Shay Facey and Angelino to notch his second goal of the game and tie it at 2 in the 61st minute.
A short while later, in the 67th minute, Villa was at it again. Kwadwo Poku gave Villa a feed at the top of the crease, Villa took a few steps to his right before unleashing a shot that deflected off an Orlando City defender to give NYC a 3-2 lead.
It didn’t take long for NYC FC to get another one. In the 71st minute, Pirlo was operating at midfield, twirled around a defender to get free, sent it to Poku past the midfield line, and he found Thomas McNamara coming down the left side. With a defender to his right, McNamara unleashed a rocket with his left foot to make it 4-2 NYC.
McNamara said of playing with Pirlo, “It’s an awesome experience. You could see the quality he has and his effect on the game immediately when he stepped in, his composure on the ball, his ability to play through lines and just open up the field for us and relieve pressure. It’s a big help.”
Orlando City’s Larin wasn’t done, as he launched a rocket from the top of the box in the 85th minute to complete the hat trick and pull Orlando City to within 4-3.
In the 92nd minute, Orlando City got a free kick, and their star from Brazil, Kaka, took it and it clanged off the right post. NYC FC raced to the other end, with Mix Villa and Poku taking it to the top of the box and getting it to Mix Diskerud, who drilled it down the center of the net to make it 5-3 finish it off. The seven second-half goals were the most in any half in the MLS this season.
NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kreis said of Mix being able to play this game after being with the US National team for the Gold Cup during the week, including their game against Panama on Saturday, “We were watching the game pretty intently to try to make a decision about whether or not Mix could be available. I made a decision in my mind that if he played any more than 30 minutes, he wouldn’t be available. So, after the game, to see him play none, and actually when they made their third substitution, we started to really push things and try to get him back as quickly as possible. We didn’t quite get the job done because he didn’t get back here until 2:30 in the morning, but he got a good sleep and a good breakfast, and we knew we had to really get him those minutes. Pleased to get him back and pleased to have him contribute in a positive way.”
Kreis on the pieces coming together offensively, “I’m really excited about what we’re seeing from the attacking end of the field. We have had so many dynamic moments we’re seeing around the goal creating scoring chances. That excites me.”
This was a huge win for NYC FC in terms of playoff positioning. It ties them with Orlando City at 24 points and an identical 6-9-6 record. They are both tied with Montreal on points, but Montreal has 6th place, the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by virtue of their 7 victories to 6 for NYC and Orlando.
Kreis said of NYC FC looking like a playoff team, “At the end of the day, we don’t want to be just a playoff contention team, we want to be a MLS Cup contention team.”
NYC FC defender Chris Wingert said of getting this win against Orlando, “Huge, especially, they were at 24, which I think is kind of cutoff for the playoffs, and so six-point turnaround potentially. A couple of other teams dropped points yesterday, so we’re getting towards, well, we are in the second half of the year, towards the last 30 or so. We’ve gotta start earning points, especially at home, and we knew today was a big one, so it’s a big win for us.”
NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders said, “I think the biggest position we take from this is the fact that Orlando is at 24 points. We were at 21, this puts us at 24 now too, so that’s right on the red line. In terms of the Eastern Conference playoff spot, this is huge. It’s a six-point swing, it could have been the other way as well. We’ll take these three points and roll forward into our next home game next week (Saturday).”
Saunders said of changes to the back line, with new defenders Jefferson Mena, Angelino and Andoni Iraolo and how he deals with it, “More or less, it’s just me staying in better positions and not trying to sell myself out, trying to make up for other plays and spacing. It is difficult at times, Spanish to English, English to Spanish, I catch myself speaking Spanish to English guys. It gets tough at times, but at the same time, you know, we’ll get better, we’ll get our spacing better and hopefully we’ll get some shutouts.”
Saunders said of the hat trick by Cyle Larin and how they were on pretty good shots, “Yeah, I mean, the guy did well, Cyle, I give him credit for scoring those goals. I’d like the first one back, but at the same time, he did well to finish those shots and we’ll move forward and we’ll get better…It’s more or less just trying to pick up the ball as fast as possible on my position and make a save.”
Wingert said of the new defenders, “We’ve got some great players all over the field. It’s a huge help to our squad, some real quality everywhere, and I think once we’re able to really get used to each other, we can really hit the ground running here and keep our momentum going.”
Wingert left the game with a hamstring injury in the 14th minute. On the injury and how this is different than others he has dealt with this season, Wingert said, “I haven’t had trouble with it before. I haven’t missed a game yet, so we’ll see, I mean, I don’t know if I’ll be ready for next week. We’ll see what the MRI says and go from there. I don’t want to predict too much. I felt it tweak (he snapped his finger as he said it) and had to come out.”