RJ Allen made the most of his first start of the 2016 season.
The New York City FC fullback, who on Saturday made his first appearance after battling a back injury, scored his first professional goal in a 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
“I’m really pleased with him,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “RJ, since he came back to the team, has worked really well. RJ will be a really, really important player for us.”
It was a sequence that Allen, who played the final 20 minutes of a 2-0 loss in Philadelphia, started with an ambitious run into the Montreal defensive third. He pushed the ball ahead to Khiry Shelton, who sent a quick low cross with his first touch to the edge of the six-yard box.
See NYCFC take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday April 30
Tommy McNamara was there to tap back to Allen, who continued his run. Allen knocked the ball inside the far post to give NYCFC a 1-0 lead in the 51st minute.
“It was a hint of magic,” Shelton said of the goal. “It’s there. We always see it in training and it comes out in training all the time.”
Added David Villa: “It was a terrific goal. After that goal we believed in the victory and felt that we needed to finish the game off to get the three points tonight. I promise that if we play like that for the next six matches then we will win all six of them. The intensity tonight was big for us.”
On Wednesday Allen was third on the team with 85.2 percent passing accuracy. He had 48 touches, made 27 passes and had four tackles. But Allen’s night was cut short when he was forced off the field in the 68th minute with an injured ankle after a hard tackle by Marco Donadel.