Villa’s controversial goal the difference in NYCFC win over Galaxy

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

THE BRONX – All eyes were on the classic Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard rivalry heading into Saturday’s New York City FC, LA Galaxy encounter — but once again, it was David Villa that stole the show.

The Spanish international snuck a controversial goal by Clement Diop early in the first half for the unlikely game winning goal. A stout defensive effort from New York City FC kept the Galaxy at bay in Yankee Stadium, ensuring NYCFC’s 1-0 victory.

Barely six minutes into the match, Jack Harrison spotted Ronald Matarrita making a run on the far left. Villa took the inside track, begging for a cross. Matarrita elected to shoot, but his attempt was batted away by Diop. Villa was there to clean up the opportunity and put NYCFC up 1-0 in the 6′ minute.

Replays, however, show Villa was offside on the play. Nevertheless, Villa’s goal, his 16th of the season, puts him atop the MLS goal scoring leader chart.

The Galaxy were held to a single shot on goal, with a Nigel de Jong bicycle kick batted away by Josh Saunders late in the first. Nevertheless, LA buzzed about the NYCFC area, failing to connect a meaningful attempt on goal.

De Jong nearly tied the match near the half hour mark, but his open attempt on goal skipped wide of Saunders. Villa, meanwhile, answered back, creating his own opportunity in the area that he misfired into the side netting.

LA were stifled by a strong defensive effort from the home side, who stretch their record home-winning streak to four matches. NYCFC are now unbeaten in four. Meanwhile, the Galaxy take home their first loss since June 19th.

After all the hype, neither Gerrard nor Lampard figured greatly into their club’s fortunes with the midfield battle nullifying either from any game changing moments.

NYCFC (11-7-8, 41 pts.) remain in first place in the Eastern Conference. They now turnaround to face former head coach Jason Kreis and Orlando City at the Citrus Bowl this weekend.