David Villa scored early in each half for NYCFC. (Keith Furman/FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Villa struck on either side of halftime, but the veteran striker’s brace wasn’t enough to boost New York City FC over the Montreal Impact Saturday night.

Villa had given City a 2-0 advantage before Montreal equalized with goals within a three-minute span early in the second half and salvage a 2-2 draw at Al Lang Field.

The tie left NYCFC winless this preseason against MLS and professional sides at 0-2-2. The club will kick off its fourth season at Sporting Kansas City Sunday, March 4.

Maxi Moralez’s pressure helped set up Villa’s first goal past goalkeeper Evan Bush, which lifted City into a 1-0 edge in the 12th minute. Four minutes into the second half, Villa doubled NYCFC’s advantage by bending a free kick over the defensive wall and into the net.

The lead, however, did not last very long as Saphir Taider and Ignacio Piatti tallied in the 52nd and 55th minutes for a 2-2 deadlock.

Former Met Oval player Asad Mackic replaced Villa in the 89th minute.

“There is a lot to learn from this game,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “Coming back into the game shows this group’s character. This was the most difficult opponent we had to face since our preseason started. This team has players that know each other and that play well together. We created quite a few opportunities. We tried to change our game a little by being more offensive. We need to continue to work, but today’s game was a good learning experience.”

Scoring summary:

NYC – David Villa 12’
NYC – David Villa 50’
MTL – Saphir Taïder 51’
MTL – Nacho Piatti 55’

Misconduct summary:

NYC – Jesus Medina 31’
NYC – Alexander Callens 35’
NYC – Anton Tinnerholm 66’
MTL – Matteo Mancosu 69’
MTL – Ken Krolicki 69’
NYC – David Villa 70’
MTL – Víctor Cabrera 87’

MTL- Evan Bush; Jukka Raitala (Daniel Lovitz 46’), Zakaria Diallo, Víctor Cabrera, Michael Petrasso; Samuel Piette, Ken Krolicki*, Saphir Taïder; Nacho Piatti, Matteo Mancosu (Jeisson Vargas 71’), Raheem Edwards (David Choinière 80’).

*Player on trial

NYC- Sean Johnson; Ronald Matarrita, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm; Jesus Medina, Yangel Herrera, Alexander Ring, Maximiliano Moralez; Rodney Wallace, David Villa (Asad Mackic 89’).