New York City FC continued their unbeaten record in home openers, completely dismantling DC United 4-0 on the back of a brace from Captain David Villa. Let’s take a look at how the squad faired:
Villa obviously starts and ends this conversation, but the Pigeons had stellar performances from elsewhere on the pitch, as well. Rodney Wallace put in another outstanding performance on the left wing, netting his first NYCFC goal and setting the tone for the evening. That goal came on the back of another player with a good, consistent attacking performance – Jack Harrison – who’s footwork got him into the box only to see his shot ricochet off the cross bar and fall to Wallace.
I had said after the Orlando match that I expected more out of Maxi Moralez, and we got more. A goal – his first ever in MLS – and an assist to Villa gave the City faithful a glimpse into what may lie ahead for the attack. Moralez picked his spots well, completing nearly 80% of his 59 passes and adding two tackles and an interception on the defensive side. The second-tier rating may seem harsh, but his goal was admittedly soft and I’d like to see him have a stronger impact on the midfield moving forward, but all signs are pointing in the right direction. Fellow newcomer Alexander Callens had a great game at the back, and he nets the second-tier rating for a spectacular sliding tackle in the box that may not have been made as cleanly by Center-Backs past. He paired well with Maxime Chanot, who we’ll get to in the next section. Also deserving of a mention is City’s new man between the sticks, Sean Johnson, who comfortably kept a clean sheet and never gave a reason for worry. He made a particularly snazzy tackle as Patrick Nyarko was bearing down on him late. Johnson held his ground and poked the ball right out from under Nyarko without incurring any sort of whistle – as clean as you like.
It’s hard to give out poor-performance ratings in a match that was won 4-0, but there is room for improvement in some spots. Maxime Chanot didn’t do anything egregiously wrong, but in a game where you need to be nitpicky to find sub-par performances, Chanot let Nyarko get the best of him only to be bailed out by his ‘keeper. Ethan White had probably his best game since he’s been with NYCFC, but his impact was negligible (though he did combine well with Jack Harrison up the right side). A lot of people knocked the choice of White over RJ Allen or Shannon Gomez, but the nice thing about White is his versatility. Having him in the game allows Patrick Vieira to move from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 without having to burn a substitute, which is something that can’t be ignored. Finally, and again this may seem unfair, but I would have liked to have seen more from Ugo Okoli. You just knew he wanted to make it 5-0 and bag his own first-ever MLS goal, but it just didn’t materialize for him. His presence in the box is formidable on those late set-pieces, so look for him to get what he’s after sooner than later.