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First a raccoon, then a Wolf

Midfielder Hannes Wolf is growing into his role at New York City FC, and could become one of the best creators in MLS.

The real POTM | © Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Two clips from New York City FC's win over Philadelphia tonight will make the highlight reels. The first is the raccoon that stopped play in the first half by crisscrossing the field like an EA Sports FC player controlled by a first-time user. The creature asked the eternal question: How many grown men does it take to catch a raccoon?

The second is the goal from Hannes Wolf. Was it a pass? A shot? A shass? In the postgame press conference, Wolf kinda sorta admitted that it was more pass than shot. But members of the lamestream media, present company included, are colluding and calling it a pure shot, and a candidate for Goal of the Matchday.

This peach of a goal follows the accidental leak of player salaries from the Major League Soccer Players Association earlier today. The data drop allowed us to post New York City's payroll — the official numbers will be made public tomorrow afternoon, but we stand by the figures we posted, including Wolf's $1.5 million salary.

It's the second-highest payout on the team — that's Designated Player money, and the Austrian is proving that he's worth it.

Wolf was the Player of the Match in New York City's hard-fought away win over Toronto FC on Saturday night. He was involved in all three goals NYCFC scored that game: Wolf drew the penalty that Santiago Rodríguez converted, then he went on to provide two assists. His ability to control the ball and create chances is giving the New York City attack an edge they missed last year, when opposing defenses could isolate and incapacitate Rodríguez. It's not that simple now that NYCFC have two speedy, technical, attack-minded players who like to have the ball at their feet.

Back in March, Wolf told Hudson River Blue that it's fun to press, and get the ball back, and be aggressive, and create chances. When asked if he expected to make an immediate impact not just on a new team, but in a new league, he was unapologetically direct. "To be honest, yes," he said. "Because I know my qualities, and I watched the team and I know maybe that the team needs that kind of player. Because of this, I made my decision to come here, to leave Europe. After my time in Germany, I wanted to be sure that I will come to a team where I get my chances, you know? And not to come as a bench player and need to see everything from the bench."

When he spoke those words, New York City had yet to win a match, and had scored just one goal in three games. The confidence felt a little aspirational. But since then, the team are 6-2-2 with 20 points out of a possible 30.

Wolf is a big part of that run of form. To use his words, maybe the team needs that kind of player, one who is as aggressive as he is elegant, and who is growing into his role as one of the keys to the success of this New York City. And one who can make a pass take a shot like the one he placed earlier tonight.