|David Villa. USA Today Sports.|
David Villa scored twice to lift New York City Football Club to a huge 2-0 win on the road over the Houston Dynamo Friday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Villa's brace, his sixth of the season, gives him 21 goals on the season and has taken over the lead in the race for the MLS Golden Boot.
With the win, NYCFC improved to 14-9-9, 51 points, and they move back into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Toronto FC, and three points ahead of the Red Bulls.
Villa opened the scoring in the 52nd minute. Jack Harrison played a short corner kick to Andrea Pirlo, who quickly passed to Villa, who made a cutting run. Villa’s first touch led him to the right edge of the six-yard box and then he slipped the ball inside the far post, and through Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis’ legs, from an extreme angle to give NYCFC a 1-0 lead.
In the 91st minute, Villa got his second goal of the night when he took a pass from Tony Taylor and blasted the ball into the net from 19 yards out on a counterattack.
Villa said of his goals and the win, “Very happy, very pleased with what the team has done on the field. I think it was a difficult game [after] a long trip almost at the end of the season, after having played many games and the team has given it all since the beginning. We are very pleased for the way we worked throughout the week and for the game we have done in offense and defense.”
New York City FC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of Villa's goals, “This is what is in training. We give players the structure and then they express themselves and they express their talent. David just played the way that the team played. It was really aggressive up front. We closed them down. We made it really difficult for them. And then when we create chances, they know how to score goals. And this is a really, really big David Villa tonight, but like the rest of the team because to come here and play the way we did, we needed a good squad and players to play at their best. I was really pleased with that.”
Taylor said of his assist, “Yeah, I got a loose ball, I think Fede[rico Bravo] gave a through pass and I did a give-and-go with him. Then, I went down the line and [David] Villa was open on the other side of the box. I crossed to him, he took a touch and hit it into the top of the net.”
This was NYCFC's seventh road win, more than any other team in Major League Soccer this season.
Josh Saunders earned his eighth clean sheet of the season, one shy of his career high set with the LA Galaxy in 2012.
Vieira said of the game and if this type of game prepares them for the playoffs, “No, not at all. We are quite far away from the playoffs. Our objective was to come here and try to perform and at least try to win. It was really quite difficult. It is a tough place to come and try to play. But I think tonight we did it really well and I’m really pleased with our team performance because I truly believe that we controlled the game. We managed the game really well. We played well when we had possession of the ball and out of possession I think we’ve been really aggressive, and we didn’t give them time on the ball. That was a really good team performance away from home.”
Villa said of the team’s goal after clinching a playoff berth last weekend, “Our mentality is that playoffs began today, that is why we are so happy. After clinching a playoff berth it is easy for any team to relax, [but] our mentality is that we began to play the playoffs; is not the same to play the playoff being first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth in the playoff. Therefore, we are already playing the playoff and trying to have a position that is good for us. So, since today we began to play the playoff and this was a great game for us.”
Vieira said of the pressure NYCFC puts on opponents, “That was the game plan because we knew how good they are up front and we wanted to press them high and for them to play long, and we were quite really good. We controlled the game, we managed it quite well.”
Taylor said of having an explosive attack with David Villa, "Yeah, he is a great player. We are blessed to have him on our team and he is a great leader and a great guy. We have a great team and we are just going to keep pushing together to achieve our goal.”