New York City FC’s loss in Portland was a bitter sight for fans. Not only did the Blues’ go out haplessly to the Timbers in the 3-0 contest, but it brought about the end of NYCFC’s unbeaten start to the 2018 season.
In a vulgar display of power, however, NYCFC showed their mental resilience and ability to bounce back from a disappointing outing against the unbeaten FC Dallas in their return to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The result was a lopsided 3-1 win in favor of City, a result brought upon David Villa’s milestone performance.
The game couldn’t have started any better for the Blues.
In only the 3rd minute, Villa dangled his way down the left flank and executed a sublime one-two pass with fullback Ben Sweat, sending the Captain into space in the box. Villa then found Jo Inge Berget in the center who sent a left footed shot that hit the post. However, Jesus Medina was right there to clean up the trash and poke the ball home, giving NYCFC an early 1-0 advantage.
This wouldn’t be the opening of the floodgates, though. NYCFC was gonna have to overcome some adversity first.
In the 10th minute of play, Yangel Herrera committed a terrible turnover on a backwards pass that Dallas’ Max Urruti was able to claim. Urruti then sent to a ball to an unmarked Santiago Mosquera who slotted the ball in past keeper Sean Johnson to knot the game up at 1-1.
The equalizing goal momentarily debilitated the Blues. But after weathering the storm, City would reestablish control over the game and continue to put pressure on the Toros’ back line.
After outplaying Dallas for much of the first half, NYCFC would finally get their chance to regain the lead in the 33rd minute.
Following a pinged ball from Maxi Moralez down the right wing, fullback Anton Tinnerholm cut past a defender and attempted to take a left-footed curler towards the back post. The shot was blocked by defender Reto Ziegler, to which Tinnerholm protested there be a call for a handball in the box. After consulting with the VAR, referee Ismail Elfath pointed to the spot and awarded NYCFC with a penalty kick.
To the surprise of no one, David Villa stepped up to take the PK and rocketed it past Jimmy Maurer, putting City ahead 2-1. The goal also marked Villa’s 400th goal for both club and country, another milestone achievement in the Spaniard’s already highly decorated career.
The Boys in Blue would have several chances to push even further ahead in the dying minutes of the first half. In the 40th minute, Herrera found himself unmarked in the box and fired a shot towards goal that was parried away by Maurer.
In the 44th, Villa would once again carve his way past FCD’s backline. The Spaniard would then send a cross in the wide open Medina, who unfortunately couldn’t meet the ball. And in the first second minute of stoppage time, Maxi Moralez sent a curling shot from the top of the box. Maurer would again rise to the occassion, however, and get just enough of a touch on the ball, which would then strike the crossbar and trickle harmlessly away.
Despite this late first half drama, NYCFC entered halftime with only a one-goal advantage.
The early parts of the second half saw City on their back foot and Sean Johnson having to defend City’s fragile lead. But it would only be a matter of time before NYCFC found themselves back on the scoresheet.
In the 69th minute, David Villa found himself on the end of a long pass from midfielder Alex Ring. The ball initially seemed to be dealt with by two Dallas defenders. However, an unfortunate deflection saw El Guaje collect the ball and slot it past a helpless Mauer, giving City a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead.
The final 20 minutes of the game saw NYCFC play keep away and sealing a decisive 3-1 win, handing Dallas their first loss of the season and putting the Blues back at the top of both the Eastern Conference and MLS at large.
Next up: NYCFC take on the New York Red Bulls in the first Hudson River Derby of the 2018 season at Red Bull Arena on May 5.