David Villa has a thing for freezing home openers.
While frozen fans chanted, “It’s f–king cold, it’s f–king cold,” Villa and New York City FC were anything but as their highly touted attack arrived and scorched D.C. United, 4-0, at a frigid Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
“We know we were going to score goals, it was just a question of time,” said NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira, whose team made the most of its five shots on target.
Villa, the reigning MLS MVP, continued his tradition of scoring in every home opener since the team’s inception in 2015. In front of 24,259 fans, the captain scored a brace on the windy, 29 degree afternoon.
While the match continued Villa’s tradition, NYCFC’s newly acquired winger Rodney Wallace seems to have jelled with his new teammates.
“Patrick [Vieira] said last week we needed to be more ruthless,” said Wallace, who opened the day’s scoring in the 8th minute. “I think we showed that today. We attacked well and defended well. … We were ruthless in the attack and solid in the back.”
Wallace looked dangerous but reckless in last week’s 1-0 loss to Orlando City SC. But when Jack Harrison’s curling effort hit the crossbar, the 28-year-old’s simple strike easily found the back of the net.
Wallace and NYCFC’s attack flourished thanks to a frozen D.C. United, especially on defense. The only thing D.C. United did well was foul, accumulating an alarming five yellow cards.
Much like last week in Orlando City, NYCFC found ways to dominate possession. They controlled 61 percent of possession, which created over 200 more passes than D.C. United. That helped the home side manipulate the opposition and find ways to attack, where they finished — multiple times.
“Today we were better in front of the target,” Villa said. “We were better when we had chances to score goals. We played the same way as we did in Orlando.”
Villa, who scored 23 goals last season, never had an easier one than he did in the 28th minute. A floating cross from Wallace found Villa unmarked for an easy header to give the home side an early two-goal cushion.
But the 35-year-old, who is negotiating to extend his stay in New York, showed everyone he still has a lot of life in his legs. After lazy protection from D.C. United’s Ian Harkes, NYCFC capitalized when Maxi Moralez, who scored his first NYCFC goal earlier Sunday, found the streaking Villa, who put a screamer past goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
While Hamid didn’t have much help all day, new NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson couldn’t have asked for a better home debut. Johnson, who was acquired from Atlanta United, didn’t have much to do in net. But his kick save in the 46th minute showed much more than Josh Saunders ever did in two seasons.
That’s something Vieira respected.
“He made a really important save in the second half,” said Vieira, who added he was disappointed with how NYCFC began the second half. “He didn’t give them a chance to get back in the game. That’s what I expect from him.”
As for Villa, who now has five home-opener goals for NYCFC, he couldn’t care less about his home-opener scoring habits.
“I try to help the team always score goals,” Villa said. “The most important [thing] was winning three points for the team. That’s most important for the team.”