New York City Football Club won their third in a row on Sunday night, as they won 2-1 over the Portland Timbers.
NYC FC improves to 4-4-3, 16 points, and are tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference with the Montreal Impact.
This is quite a turnaround for NYC FC, who started the season with a win at Chicago, then went winless over the next seven games, and have rebounded with three straight victories.
NYC FC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of how important the win was for NYCFC, “It was important, yes. Like every single game we play, it is always important to win. Myself and the players, we are all satisfied to go back and onto Toronto with the satisfaction and happiness because we worked hard to take the three points.”
On whether tonight was a statement game from NYCFC, Vieira said, “No. I think as a team, as a football club, we show that we are getting better and better. Of course there is still a lot of the game that we need to improve. The win is always good because it gives you confidence and positiveness to keep going and keep working hard. There’s still a really long way to go. We will watch the game again and see which part of the game that we need to improve. We need to work and we need to resolve the problem we had today for us to be better as a team in the next game.”
Portland dominated early on, but NYC FC got on the board first as David Villa scored his eighth goal of the season in the 12th minute to make it 1-0. Villa is now tied with Sebastian Giovincoi of Toronto FC for most goals in the MLS.
The play began when RJ Allen dispossessed Darlington Nagbe and threaded a sublime through ball to Villa, who took a touch before slotting the ball inside the far post from 12 yards out.
Villa said of his goal, “I showed the space. I saw RJ was in position to play me the ball. Obviously it was a very good, a very difficult ball, but he made it very good. I think the second was the control. I made a took control very well and finished it.”
Fanendo Adi leveled with his eighth goal of the year from 15 yards in the 55th minute.
But McNamara responded 10 minutes later with his third goal of the year, a wonder strike into the upper right corner of the net from 25 yards out. Khiry Shelton started the sequence with a cross from the corner flag to Andrea Pirlo, who settled the ball and slipped it to McNamara.
The goal came immediately after a spectacular saving tackle from Ronald Matarrita on Lucas Melano.
McNamara said of his game-winning goal, “I don’t remember how Andrea [Pirlo] got the ball, but Andrea got the ball and I was just square of him. Two people came to close him down so it left me free. I was just shouting for it, he laid it off for me. I took a touch and just tried to wrap my foot around it back post.”
Jason Hernandez was a big reason why Portland was kept off the scoreboard in the first half, bravely diving to block a Diego Valeri shot after Josh Saunders came off his line to challenge.
After blocking another Valeri shot in the 16th minute following an Adi layoff , Hernandez came up with a well-timed slide tackle after Adi pulled off his jersey in the 39th minute.
Two minutes into the second half, Saunders made a spectacular save, diving to his right to get a fingertip on a Nagbe attempt from 12 yards.
Vieira said of Jason Hernandez’s performance, “Jason is one of our leaders in the back. He has a really strong character. He is always positive and I was very pleased with his performance. When you look at the way that [Ronald] Matarrita finished the game, the way that RJ [Allen] or Fred [Brillant] finished the game, there was a lot of tiredness, so it will be important to recover and prepare for next game.”
McNamara said of the match, “It was a really difficult game. Portland did well. They controlled a lot of the ball. They put a lot of pressure on us. But I was really proud of the way that the guys stuck together. We defended really well together, we worked really hard for each other and at the end of the day we got a result out of it because of it.”
Villa said of the match, “Very happy. We are very happy. Other than the first half, we were dominating with a very good team like Portland. They have the ball, they have the change. We need to come back and drop to wait in our box. Obviously we played against a very good team. In the first half we had a change in my goal. A very good pass from RJ [Allen]. We are leading in the game and for us it is comfortable to drop a little bit and wait for the very good players of Portland. Very good things from the game. Very good things. The team played together, the team waited together, fight together. This is the most important today.”