David Villa celebrates his equalizing goal. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
BRONX — A draw certainly isn’t the equal of a win in terms of points in Major League Soccer, but the way New York City FC earned the point may go a long way to boosting the team during the stretch run.
Striker David Villa connected on a free kick in the 86th minute to lift City into a 1-1 draw with D.C. United to salvage a point during the two-game homestand at Yankee Stadium this week.
NYCFC dropped a 1-0 home decision to the New England Revolution Wednesday.
“I’m not happy just for the result,” head coach Domenec Torrent said. “I said I’m proud of them because they played really well for me and for the effort until the last moment. We played two games in a few days and it’s not easy to play against United. That is the reason why I am very proud of them, of my players because they play much better and were able to create many, many chances but in the end, soccer, when you miss too many chances you bite.”
The hosts remained in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 14-8-7 mark and 49 points. The Red Bulls lead the Supporters Shield race with 55 points, followed by second-place Atlanta United (16-5-6, 54).
City outshot United by an incredible 31-2 margin, but found itself on the wrong end of a 1-0 score before a crowd of 28,239 after Steve Birnbaum beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson on a header off a Wayne Rooney free kick in the 58th minute. It appeared it should have Johnson’s ball all the way.
Villa, however, equalized with his 11th goal of the season with four minutes remaining in regulation before injury time on a curling free kick past keeper Bill Hamid.
“Never in my whole career, and I’ve played a lot of games, [have I played] two games like this, dominating like we do … and we only got one point out of six,” defender Anton Tinnerholm said. “I don’t think we can play better than we are now, but we aren’t good enough in front of goal…It’s a big, big disappointment not to walk out of here with the three point … and when you think about the game Wednesday night it’s even more frustrating.”
Not everyone thought a point was valuable.
Take, for instance, Rooney, who felt he saw two points go through United’s collective hands.
“Obviously, it feels like a bit of a loss at the moment, after conceding the late goal,” he said. “We wanted to win the game, but the way the game went we ended up defending a lot more than we wanted. The defense was brilliant tonight, unfortunately we conceded the goal, but a point overall away from home is a good point.”