David Villa is aware that NYCFC got the reinforcements needed to go further in the MLS postseason. And in their third season at Yankee Stadium he is the fan favorite that always propels NYCFC to something special. He did that in October but the team fell short of their goals and Sunday, at Yankee Stadium Villa sent a quick message.
There are additions to this team that will make a difference. They lost their opener last Sunday at Orlando, and Villa did not play a role even with the additions of Rodney Wallace who played four seasons at Portland and Maxi Moralez the Argentine designated player.
So Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium in the home opener, 24,259 fans who braved the cold witnessed Villa pacing the newcomers and you can expect that from the reigning MVP.
And this is what NYCFC fans are expected to see. Villa scored two goals, the newcomers one apiece as NYCFC defeated D.C. United 4-0 and remained unbeaten in three home openers with two wins and a draw. The first two goals were scored by Wallace and Moralez.
Villa is the franchise and that is no secret. He scored NYCFC’s first Yankee Stadium goal in 2015 and scored both goals in their home opener win last season against Toronto in the Bronx. The fans cheer every move he makes on the field and additions that come to this franchise are enticed because Villa is the cog.
However, Villa does not take the credit for a win. It is always a team effort and similar to the NYCFC playoff run last season he will offer praise. This time it was about the newcomers that will also be a catalyst to a hopeful run for a championship.
About Moralez and his goal, Villa said, “He is great. His quality, he creates space in front of goal. For me it’s great to have him behind me because he’s a great player and gives me chances as well as the team.”
Villa, as usual, was the most anticipated player sought by the media in the NYCFC locker room. And it is not unusual to wait for him to face the media.
But waiting is a part of dealing with more than one athlete with superstar status that plays in New York. Villa may not draw the attention of Yoenis Cespedes at Citi Field, or a Carmelo Anthony in a Knicks uniform at Madison Square Garden, but he is that premiere soccer star in New York.
It was important for NYCFC to win the home opener. In the first half, Moralez scored his goal in the left corner of the net off a neat pass from Villa. Wallace scored the first goal within eight minutes and the chemistry was perfect with Villa by his side.
“It is very important to score goals and get assists for a victory,” Moralez said. Said Wallace about the 3-0 lead at the half, “It felt good. But we didn’t let up and we came into the locker room knowing we had 45 to 50 minutes to play and make sure we didn’t give up a goal.”
And then there was Villa who always makes sure to protect a lead as NYCFC remained undefeated in their last nine home matches at 8-0-1.
“It was a really good team effort,” said coach Patrick Vieira. “From the first minute, the team worked really hard, and this is a really good start for playing our game at home. Last year, we struggled at home. It was important for us to try to win our first home game and we did it today in a really, really good way.”
Last year in the beginning of their home season, NYCFC struggled to score and with a short offseason Vieira wanted that to be a distant memory. Villa wanted to make sure this first of 17 home games in the Bronx got off to a good start. With some newcomers it got off to a good start and the franchise player responded.
Nest Saturday against Montreal at Yankee Stadium Vieira hopes for another win at home. That’s the next game for NYCFC and indications are this could be a special season for David Villa and the newcomers.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso