Jack Harrison fired a second-half winner and David Villa shut the door with a thunderstrike on the last touch of the game as New York City FC bested the Columbus Crew 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
The win clinched a first-round playoff bye for NYCFC, who opted to give goalkeeper Eirik Johansen his MLS debut. The Boys in Blue will get their first taste of postseason ball next Sunday.
“The motivation today was easy and every player was amazing,” Villa said post-match.
Stiven Mendoza struck first for the home team at the stroke of halftime, but an Ola Kamara header off a whipped-in cross from Justin Meram — who tends to feast on NYCFC defending — evened the score just before the hour, putting the first round bye in some doubt.
But a certain English teenager wasn’t about to accept a third-place finish.
“Jack has been doing really well. He’s played with a lot of confidence,” gaffer Patrick Vieira beamed after the match.
Just moments later, super-sub Khiry Shelton screamed his way into the danger area and dragged a picture-perfect shot just inside the far post to make it 3-1.
The route was on. But the Blues weren’t done.
It was a smashing display in front of the home fans against a Columbus team that entered the game unbeaten against New York City in all five previous meetings. What a difference a year makes: the defending Eastern Conference champions will miss the postseason, while last year’s eighth-place side is going dancing.
As Stringer told Avon in the third season of The Wire:
“We ain’t gotta dream no more, man.”