NEW YORK CITY, NY – New York City FC took on Seattle Sounders on a sloshy Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Here is NYCFC Nation’s highlights and analysis:
In a match that saw balls deadened by the waterlogged Yankee Stadium pitch, defenders looking like they were playing on a Slip n’ Slide, and sequences that will surely land on MLS blooper reels for years to come, David Villa broke his scoreless streak with a brace to put his team over the top.
Villa had been scoreless in his last four matches, dating back to City’s 3-0 victory over Orlando on May 21st.
Asked about whether or not he felt relief with today’s brace, Villa replied, “No, I’m happy because two goals lead to three points for the team. It’s good, the numbers – 50, 51 – but I have a lot of games yet. My goal is not to score 50 goals, now, it’s to score 52.”
Lining up without an injured Maxi Moralez, NYCFC had to take on a different look, with 20-year-0ld phenom Jack Harrison taking over for the Argentinian DP. His touches were limited in the first half – seemingly both by game plan and by the field conditions.
Defender Ben Sweat told reporters after the match that City was acutely aware of specific points on the field that were trouble spots – specifically one spot at the top of the 18-yard-box on the first base side of the diamond. “It got worse [until] probably 20-25 minutes into the game. After that it was all the same puddles in all the same spots.”
Scoring opened toward the end of the first half. On what can only be described as a defensive breakdown, Seattle’s 2015 first rounder Cristian Roldan created some space for himself, moving to the near-side of the 18 yard box. Maxime Chanot pursued him, but found himself as the only defender able to make a play. Caught between two defensive responsibilities – defend the shot from Roldan, or defend the back-pass to a trailing Clint Dempsey – Chanot chose the latter. Roldan took the selfish route, rifling the ball just out of reach of a diving Sean Johnson to put the away side up 1-0.
It wouldn’t be long before City responded. Villa’s first goal came on a 51st-minute penalty call, drawn by the man himself. Triple teamed as he dribbled into the box, el Capitan found the contact he was looking for and referee Robert Sibiga pointed to the spot immediately. Villa calmly slotted the ball home past Stefan Frei and the Boys in Blue had tied the match 1-1. The score brought Villa’s club total to 50, becoming the fifth fastest player to reach that mark in MLS history (50 goals in 78 games).
The goal that put the Boys in Blue ahead was a work of art. The build-up started from Yangel Herrera, who intercepted the ball about 40 yards out. He got it into a dangerous position – the foot of Rodney Wallace, who crossed it to Harrison – moved back to his spot on the wing after some substitutions. Harrison quite literally ran a circle around the Sounders defense, getting the ball to his favored left foot and crossing it for the one-time strike to Villa.
Asked about the importance of consecutive come-from-behind victories, Villa said “On one hand it’s good, because it [speaks] to the team – it’s great. But I don’t like it so much [laugh].”
Of course, El Guaje would prefer to simply win every match wire-to-wire. But in a season plagued by inconsistency, we’ll take the three points however we can get them.
The club will be resting the rest of the weekend, and return to work Tuesday when they will begin preparing for next week’s derby match against their rivals, Red Bulls.