CHESTER, PA – Friday night under the lights in the City of Brotherly Love and it couldn’t have gone any better for the Boys in Blue as they deservedly clinched their first road win of 2017.
David Villa scored an early contender for goal of the season in stoppage-time to secure the three points.
With the hosts desperately chasing a first win since August and NYCFC seeking to put last weekend’s defeat to DC behind them, you always felt something had to give in the City of Brotherly Love.
“First you have to give credit to the opposing team. Philly, in the first half, made it really difficult for us,” said coach Patrick Viera. “We were trying to play, but the way they were closing us down, they were going to be aggressive and we needed to be patient. In the second half, we found a bit more space because they ran a lot in the first half. We knew that in the last half hour, we’d create more chances because of the way (Philadelphia) was working in the first half. That was part of our game plan and I’m glad that it worked.”
Five minutes were on the clock when Andre Blake was called into action for the first time when Alex Ring’s arcing cross almost caught out the Philadelphia goalkeeper and found its way into the back of the net.
Whether he meant it or not, only he’ll know, but that early warning shot shocked The Union into life and they began exerting some early pressure, firing off a couple of wayward shots on Sean Johnson’s goal in the first 10’.
There were some good moments from Vieira’s side, including a mazy run from Jack Harrison but the opening 20’ certainly belonged to Jim Curtin’s men who were pressing their visitors incessantly and forcing misplaced passes.
However, it was Harrison and NYCFC who drew out the first good save of the game, when Jack fired off a left-footed strike towards the bottom corner which was tipped around the post by a full stretch Blake.
It was a great save from The Union no.1 but anything he could do, Johnson can do just as well… as he showed when he got down low to paw away a ferocious volley from Alejandro Bedoya on 27’.
A moment of controversy followed as NYCFC were denied what looked like a clear penalty when Richie Marquez blocked Villa’s goalbound shot with his hands but referee Jose Carlos Rivero was not moved to point to the spot and then Moralez saw his follow-up saved.
No goals at the back but no lack of entertainment and Vieira called for his players to have more courage and to commit to playing a few yards further forward in his halftime interview with Julie Stewart-Binks.
This increased emphasis on offense paid rich dividends five minutes into the second half when NYCFC scored the night’s first goal.
It was a brilliant move too, with Ronald Matarrita slipping in a stunning through ball with the outside of his foot to Jack who did the rest with an emphatic thumping finish under Blake.
It was clear to see that the goal imbued the away team with a fresh gust of confidence as the chances racked up thick and fast in the following minutes.
A few minutes after Blake came to the rescue when Ethan White shot, Wallace tried to be too cute with an open goal and had his dink cleared off the line before Moralez volleyed over the bar with the rebound.
It was looking to be a nervy end to the game for NYCFC after those missed chances until David Villa produced one of the best goals of his entire career, shooting from 53.5 yards out, volleying over Blake into the net to deservedly earn his team their third win of the campaign in jaw-dropping style.
“The people is happy,” Villa said. “Everybody told me congratulations. We are happy because the moment of the goal was good for the team. We wanted to win the game, we were 1-0, but in some situations the other team can score, and with this goal, the game was won.”