NEW YORK | Patrick Mullins waited near the halfway line even with the defenders. The ball was played to David Villa to his left as both New York City FC forwards darted forward toward the New England goal – one with the ball, the other constantly checking to his left to remain even with the play.
Villa capped his probing run with a dazzling stop-and-go move to evade his marker then skimmed the ball across the box to Mullins, who slid near the far post while gliding the ball into the back of the net.
Mullins sprinted behind the goal then grabbed his jersey with both hands and proudly kissed the New York City FC badge emblazoned on his left chest.
“I kissed the badge because it tastes so good,” Mullins said. “I’m so happy to be here. I’m just incredibly excited.”
That goal in the 84th minute sealed all three points as New York City FC beat New England 2-0 in front of 43,507 fans at iconic Yankee Stadium for the Club’s first-ever victory.
While the day was historic from a Club standpoint, it proved extra special for Mullins.
The 23-year-old striker was drafted 11th overall by the Revolution in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Maryland. Mullins had four goals and one assist in 21 appearances (14 starts) as a rookie helping the Revolution win the MLS Eastern Conference Championship.
He was left unprotected in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft and was selected fourth overall by New York City FC.
“The Revolution were a great organization to me, but tonight was about one thing and that was NYCFC,” Mullins said Sunday evening. “I think I showed after that goal I couldn’t be happier to be here and proud to represent the organization.”
To add to the excitement of the result, it was Mullins’ debut with his new Club.
The two-time Hermann Trophy winner replaced fellow striker Adam Nemec at 83:14. A mere 42 seconds later, Mullins was celebrating with his teammates and his new city.
“I think I’m a very confident guy and as a forward you need that,” he said. “Every time I’m on the pitch I think I’m going to score a goal. I just had a feeling tonight a chance would fall my way and I wanted to make sure I was ready to take it. When you have David out there he’s going to find you and you have to make sure you put it in.”
New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis certainly knows that mentality and onus well.
A former forward himself, Kreis was the first player in Major League Soccer history to register 100 career goals. He retired in 2007 as the league’s all-time leading goal scorer (108).
“I know from personal experience as a striker you always feel this need to score goals and Patrick in particular is a player who has been speaking to us about how he needs to get that goal for us,” Kreis said. “Even during the preseason strikers feel they need to score goals. I was pleased for him. What a spectacular play by David to set that goal up and certainly a very hard and committed run by Patrick to get into the positon he needed to.
“Patrick has worked extremely hard and is really doing quite well.”