|David Villa. USA Today Sports.
David Villa scored two goals to lead New York City Football Club to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
NYCFC improved to 13-9-9, 48 points, and currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference. They extended their home unbeaten streak to seven games, with six wins and one draw.
This weekend, NYCFC can earn a spot in the 2016 MLS Audi Playoffs with either an Orlando City SC tie against D.C. United Saturday, a New York Red Bulls win over the Montreal Impact Saturday or a New England Revolution tie or loss against the Columbus Crew Sunday.
NYCFC got on the board early and often against Chicago, kind of like how they vote in that city.
In the eighth minute, NYCFC had a corner kick, and Andrea Pirlo got it to Ronald Matarrita, who sent a pass to Khiry Shelton on the right side of the box. Shelton headed it back across the goal to Jefferson Mena, who drilled it from inside the six-yard box for his first career MLS goal.
Right off the ensuing kickoff, NYCFC struck again, as Shelton got a blistering pass to Villa, who buried it from just outside the box to make it 2-0 NYCFC.
After Chicago's Luis Solignac got one back in the 27th, NYCFC scored just before halftime.
In the 44th minute, Villa picked up the ball inside NYCFC's 18-yard box after a Chicago corner kick and burst up the field. Villa got it to Mendoza, who cut inside the field and hit a blast from 25 yards out into the upper right corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season to make it 3-1.
In the 83rd minute, Shelton set up Villa again with a terrific pass, Villa went to the top right off the box, faked out a Chicago defender with a nifty move and blasted one to the top left corner of the net to make it 4-1 NYCFC.
Villa now has 19 goals on the season, and this was his fifth multi-goal game of the season. He has pulled to within one goal behind the MLS league-leader Bradley Wright-Phillips of the Red Bulls, who has 20.
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of the win and Villa’s influence on the game, “Of course it was a really important game for us and I’m really pleased with the win, but especially with the way we played. We are not there yet. We have to wait for the games to be played tomorrow to be really satisfied, but what was important for us was to win the game and we did it in a really good way. Regarding David, when he’s playing like that, nobody can stop him. From the way that’s he’s fighting, he’s a captain of the team. He’s a leader of the team. I think tonight’s performance was one of the best I’ve seen from him.”
Villa said of the game, “I am very happy for the day. First of all because we showed in the game, that we were working hard all week in training. Which is important for the team because we work a lot to be strong on the pitch and we did it this week. Obviously, we made history. Sometimes people look at the players we have and they think it’s easy but it’s not. We are a young team, we are only 1.5 years old and we are fighting against teams that have been playing for 20 years. We are very happy and very proud. The 48 points, we think puts us inside the playoffs and we have to wait on the results of tomorrow but we are happy to make history for our club. Now is time for rest. On Monday we start another week and we will try to get another win again in Houston.”
Villa is in the running for MVP, and he said of that, “It’s really nice for the club and obviously for me as well. I always am thinking that the best thing you can do on the pitch is to do good for the team. When the team is good, the individual players are good and when the team is bad it’s difficult to feel you individually are good. If you say I can be MVP for NYCFC, its now when you are at the top of table with more wins than anyone in the conference. If the team is in a bad position, then it is impossible to consider yourself the MVP.”
Vieira said of Khiry Shelton's performance, which included three assists, “He did really well. I knew that he would go up and down because it’s been quite a long time since he’s started a game, but when I analyze this game from the start to the end, he did what I was wanting him to do and he had a really good game. He has a physical presence upfront and he works really hard for the team, and I was really pleased with his performance tonight.”
Shelton said of his confidence level, “I had a goal last week and against D.C. I had two assists. My confidence has definitely risen and I am happy going forward now. But I have to keep working hard and keep doing what I have been doing.”
Shelton said of the prospect of the playoffs, “It’s our second year as a club so that is huge. It’s a great part of history, we are all happy about it and just looking forward to the next game."
Vieira is on the verge of becoming only the second black manager in MLS to make the playoffs, and he said of that, “It doesn’t mean anything to me. I am a coach like everybody else in the league. The objective is to take the team to the playoffs. Even if we are not there yet, I am pleased and happy with the way the team played today and that is the most important thing for me. Being a black manager… I don’t know what to say. I don’t see it like that.”