BRONX | New York City FC took a big step in the right direction as the Club vies to qualify for the Major League Soccer playoffs in their inaugural season.
Captain David Villa scored twice, Javier Calle found the back of the net for the first time for the Club, and Tommy McNamara and Mix Diskerud helped seal all three points as New York City FC beat Orlando City SC 5-3 in front of 32,041 on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
New York City FC improve to 6-9-6 (24 points) and move up to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, while fellow expansion side Orlando City SC fall to 6-9-6 (24 points) and dropped to eighth.
"Yesterday four teams from our conference tied, so they missed out on two points," Villa said. "Today we beat Orlando, who is another one of our rivals. This victory helps us gain two points on teams vying for the playoffs and three against Orlando. Having won today is fantastic."
Said head coach Jason Kreis: "I’m really excited about what we’re seeing from the attacking end of the field. We have had so many dynamic moments we’re seeing around the goal creating scoring chances. That excites me."
Villa, who was recently named to the 2015 MLS All-Star Gameday roster, put the Club ahead right before halftime after a back-and-forth first half were neither team could seize momentum.
Angelino served up a pinpoint ball from midfield over the top to Villa in the box. The former Spain international showed deft control with his right foot despite having Sean St. Ledger draped over him. Villa created space, squared up and fired home his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
The visitors got one back following the interval.
Cyle Larin scored the first of his three goals on the day in the 50th minute to make it 1-1.
New York City FC needed just three minutes to regain the lead as Calle, who was making his first start since April 24, tapped in a teasing cross by McNamara from about 6 yards out to make it 2-1.
It was the Colombian’s first goal for the Club and in MLS.
"I’ve been working towards being able to play again and today was my chance," Calle said. "And now I have to continue trying to do the same to help the team make the playoffs. This is the second game I’ve played in this position and that’s the position where I’m closer to the goal and that I’m most familiar with. And I think I need to keep taking advantage of opportunities to keep scoring."
Larin, the first overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, made it 2-2 with a tap-in of his own. Darwin Ceren ran onto a through ball down the left flank and sent a low cross into the box that Larin nailed home in the 61st minute.
Midfielder Andrea Pirlo made his New York City FC debut to a raucous ovation, replacing Mehdi Ballouchy in the 56th minute. The Italian maestro was instrumental in setting up the Club’s third goal in the 67th minute, spinning around a defender near midfield and passing the ball forward to Kwadwo Poku. Poku drove to the box and outmuscled Serando Carrasco before passing the ball to his Villa to his left. The forward cut inside to beat Aurelien Collin and proceeded to fire it to the far post as goalie Tally Hall was left rooted to the ground.
Villa has 12 goals this season and has scored six in the last four matches.
It was a lead the Club wouldn’t relinquish.
New York City FC added to their tally in similar fashion, but it was McNamara who found the back of the net this time. Pirlo again made a move in the midfield and found Poku. The Ghanaian darted forward and slid the ball to his left. McNamara, who had a ton of space, ran into the box and smashed home a left-footed effort to make it 4-2.
"It was great because I could tell that the fans wanted me to play," Pirlo said, referring to the "We Want Pirlo" chants throughout the first half. "When I got on the pitch, it was absolutely amazing to hear all of the applause. It was very emotional to hear and I really did appreciate it.
"I hope that I will continue to improve my game. I have only been training for three days at this point so I also need to feel more comfortable with my teammates and I am sure we will play well together.”
Orlando City SC made things interesting as Larin scored in the 85th minute off a pass from Kaka, cutting the home side’s lead to 4-3.
New York City FC sealed all three points on a lovely counter in stoppage time.
Orlando City SC threw men forward striving for the equalizer, but New York City FC broke off with a speedy counter as Villa, Poku and Mix teamed up with the American, who just returned from the 2015 Gold Cup, firing it home from close range.
New York City FC return to action on August 1 against Montreal. Kickoff is 2 p.m. ET from Yankee Stadium (YES Network, WFAN).