by CHRISTIAN ARAOS
A bitter cold wind whipped across the Yankee Stadium outfield Sunday afternoon but it only froze D.C. United as New York City FC ran rampant in a 4–0 win.
Rodney Wallace, David Villa and Maxi Moralez each had a goal and an assist as NYCFC scored three in the first half and added the fourth midway through the second half.
Wallace was first to the rebound in the eighth minute after Jack Harrison’s curling left-footed shot hit the crossbar. Wallace turned provider 20 minutes later with a cross from left wing that Villa softly nodded a looping header over D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Villa was the next with an assist as he slipped a through ball for Moralez who calmly finished into the bottom corner.
“It was a really good team performance,” NYCFC Coach Patrick Vieira said. “From the first minute, I thought the team worked really hard and that is a really good to our game at home. When you look at last year when we struggled at home, it was important for us to try to win our first home game and we did it today in a really good way.”
City made only one change to the team that lost in Orlando last week, with Ethan White replacing R.J. Allen, who was left out of the match day squad. White helped the backline tame D.C.’s paper tiger attack. The only shot on target the defense allowed in the first half was from distance and Sean Johnson had no problems handling it. Johnson would be tested more in the second half including twice by Patrick Nyarko from left wing but the City goalkeeper was up to the task.
“It’s really good for us, Sean, not only with the saves he made but sometimes in soccer, you see the body speak, with the movement of the body” Villa said. “His body gives confidence to the team — to the back four in all actions. In corner kicks, set pieces and when he plays with his feet. It’s really good for us.”
It was City’s midfield that performed as dominantly as the result suggests. The same trio that started in Orlando started in the Bronx and controlled possession as it did last week. Moralez dropped deep to help Andrea Pirlo and the defense play the ball through midfield. Pirlo played a short passing game letting his teammates play more directly. Alexander Ring covered the most ground of the three and used his strength to win possession in the midfield. With Harrison and Wallace tracking back, NYCFC was organized defensively and well-positioned for quick direct attacks.
“I thought today was a great team effort,” Moralez said. “We converted the chances that opened up for us and we were much better in front of goal. The chances were there for my teammates as well and we had a good result today.”
Villa finished the scoring in the 75th minute from a tight angle after a through ball from Moralez split the D.C. defense. He and Pirlo were substituted soon after, allowing Yangel Herrera to make his debut. City completed 592 passes and held 61 percent of the possession, down slightly from its performance in Orlando. NYCFC’s defense was also comfortable in retaining possession with center backs Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens each completing around 85 percent of their passes.
NYCFC hosts Montreal at Yankee Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m.