Ladies and gentleman, the one and only David Villa. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Front Row Soccer Editor
BRONX — The only man at Yankee Stadium Sunday who was able to stop David Villa from scoring goals Sunday turned out to be his own coach.
Patrick Vieira showed D.C. United much mercy in New York City FC’s 4-0 trouncing by replacing his star striker with Sean Okoli in the 77th minute.
By then, the City captain and 2016 Major League Soccer MVP had done his damage and then some, scoring twice and setting up a third in the third-year team’s home opener.
In fact, it was the third time in as many home openers that the 35-year-old Villa etched his name onto a scoresheet. He also tallied in the 2-0 win over the New England Revolution in 2015 and twice more in the 2-2 draw with Toronto FC last year.
“It’s good for me. I’m a striker,” he said. “I always try to help the team with goals. Most important to me, I scored today in the home opener. More important than the goals was winning three points for the team.”
Incredibly, no one brought up Villa’s performance at Vieira’s postgame press conference after Sunday’s match.
Perhaps it is a signal that the Spanish World Cup champion’s heroics have become common place.
Nonetheless, Villa’s strike rate in MLS has been astounding one of the best in league history, if not the best as he has found the net once every 129 minutes during his two-plus season in the league with NYC FC.
“I am playing well,” Villa said. “I am so happy because I am healthy and I am happy with the team. I try to do my best every game. Today I had two chances and I scored two goals. But I tried to do the best.”
His second goal was a beauty, which fans are likely to remember Villa’s second goal more than any other tally Sunday.
Villa latched onto a pass from Maxi Moralez, bolted toward the left side of the net with defender Steve Birnhaum close at hand before drilling a shot from a ridiculous angle over the left shoulder in the 75th minute.
“One v one, I think the best way was going inside, looking at my right leg,” he said. “But in the moment, I saw Hamid do it well on the left side. You need to find solution. At the first moment I thought about going inside with my right leg but I changed in the moment due to the movement of the center back.”
Brilliant, absolutely, brilliant.
Then again, we’ve been saying that and raving about Mr. Villa since he scored his first goal for City in March 2015.