All three of New York City’s Designated Players scored for the first time in team history as the Blues, down a man late, beat Philadelphia Union 3-2 at Yankee Stadium.
New York City, fresh off an embarrassing loss to the NASL’s New York Cosmos in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, started Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, and David Villa for the first time all year. From the beginning, the team came out firing.
The much-maligned Frank Lampard scored the first goal just eight minutes into the game. The Englishman pounced on a loose ball in the box after Tommy McNamara had a shot blocked. The Union vainly protested that Lampard was offside, to no avail.
In the 21st minute, midfielder Jack Harrison put his stamp on the game emphatically. He seized on a Union turnover, then streaked down the middle of the field, shrugging off a shirt pull. As he neared the Philadelphia penalty area, two Union defenders attempted to intercept him; he delivered a pinpoint backheel pass to David Villa, who proceeded to coolly double the Blues’ lead. The goal was Villa’s eleventh of the year, extending his Golden Boot lead.
The game quieted down from that point, becoming slightly more chippy as the Union looked for any way back into the game. The two teams went into halftime separated by the same scoreline.
Five minutes into the second half, Andrea Pirlo put the exclamation point — and as it would turn out, the game-winning goal — on New York City’s afternoon. Pirlo took a free kick just a bit outside the Philadelphia box. Philadelphia’s Andre Blake — who had a spectacular game otherwise — could do naught but watch as the ball sailed in to make the score 3-0.
But the game wouldn’t end that easily for the Blues. In the 55th minute, Blues defender Jason Hernandez earned a yellow card and surrendered a penalty after a cheap foul. Union sub Roland Alberg notched the penalty goal, after waving away Sebastien Le Toux.
From that point on, Philadelphia grew into the game. Vieira tried changing the flow of the game with his substitutions, but to no avail. In the 85th minute, disaster struck; Hernandez fouled a Union player on a breakaway, earning himself a second yellow card and an ejection from the game. Three minutes later, Philadelphia made the man advantage count. Tranquillo Barnetta delivered a corner kick into the box, and in the resulting scrum, New York City defender Frederic Brillant scored an own goal to make the score 3-2.
It was too little, too late. The Blues did just enough to escape with their second home victory of the season.
Next up for New York City: a cross-country trip to Seattle to take on the Sounders. They play Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN.