LOS ANGELES – Following Chicago’s 3-1 defeat to Columbus earlier in the night, NYCFC went into this one knowing that a win would take them up into second place in the Eastern Conference and into one of those prized automatic MLS Playoffs berths.
In the pre-match, Patrick Vieira said nothing less than a repeat of the performance which took the Boys in Blue to a second Hudson River Derby win of the campaign last weekend would be enough to clinch a first-ever road win at the home of the Galaxy and that’s what he got.
The suspended Maxi Moralez remained in New York but even down a DP, the visitors made a confident, strong start with the pressing on point to win back the ball whenever it was in LA’s possession.
However, it was the hosts who went closest to the opener inside the first 15’ when a Romain Alessandrini cross deflected off Ben Sweat’s boot and would have looped over Sean Johnson into the net if not for a world class fingertip save from the NYCFC stopper.
That was the best chance either team carved out in the opening half an hour of a hard-fought but unspectacular game but LA would go close again on 37’ when Emmanuel Boateng curled in a dangerous ball across the face of goal but Alexander Callens’ excellent positioning prevented Gyasi Zardes from reaching the cross.
Johnson came to his team’s rescue once again a minute later when Pele van Aanholt volleyed in a rocket from the edge of the box but there was the NYCFC no.1 with another strong hand to tip the ball over the bar.
There was a real blow for Vieira just before the break as Alex Ring picked up a yellow card, meaning he’ll miss next Sunday’s home match vs. New England Revolution.
LA Galaxy had certainly enjoyed the better of the first half and they looked dangerous again a minute into the second when Johnson made his third big save of the night, racing out when Boateng was played through and spreading himself wide to make the block.
Ten minutes into the second period, NYCFC made the breakthrough against the run of play and boy, it was worth waiting for…
Lewis picked up the ball on the touchline and slalomed through a sea of challenges before unleashing an unstoppable curling effort which kissed the underside of the crossbar on its way into the net.
Not a bad way to open your pro account…
Ashley Cole provided a reminder of the fragility of NYCFC’s lead with a scissor-kick off the bar on 68’ but four minutes later, the MLS MVP served up another devastating moment of brilliance to secure the points.
Bagging his 18th of the season in style, Villa let rip with a 25-yard screamer which flew into the upper 90, leaving Brian Rowe grasping for air.
Johnson made sure of the Man of the Match award with three more excellent saves in the final ten minutes and the Boys in Blue held on for a second brilliant victory inside a week.