Ugo Okoli was only on the field in Orlando for the last six minutes but he made his presence felt.
Introduced as an 84th minute substitute in place of Alex Ring as NYCFC pressed for the equalizer they merited on the balance of play, Okoli went close to marking his debut with a goal.
Signed from FC Cincinnati in the club’s first transaction of the offseason, Ugo arrives with a big reputation after a phenomenal year in USL.
Okoli won the Golden Boot with his 16 goals and also took the league MVP prize, meaning NYCFC boast both MLS and USL’s best players in 2016 up front.
The pair demonstrated that they may well have a future as a potential strike partnership in Orlando in this brief glimpse, with Ugo interchanging with El Guaje on a few occasions which had the home defense worried.
“It’s always thrilling to be out on the field, especially in front of that crowd. We’re a little bit disappointed because we played well and didn’t get the result we wanted but I think overall we made some steps forward.
“For me personally, it was just great to be out on that field, especially wearing the NYCFC badge.
“It’s the first game of the season, so of course not everything is going to be perfect. As a striker, you just want to make sure your shots are on target and then you have a chance of it going in. We were unlucky – the goalkeeper made some good saves but there was positive stuff before then.
“I’m very excited to get out in front of our fans at Yankee Stadium. I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for us to bounce back. We want to get the win to start the season and we might as well do it at home, right?”
In Patrick’s words…
“We didn’t put in enough crosses when Sean came on but he created two good situations by himself. He showed his ability and his quality too.”
Villa’s backheel flick in behind the Lions’ back four in the final minutes was one of the plays of the match but the pace and power Ugo showed to reach it was almost as impressive.
Sadly for NYCFC, the subsequent strike found a Joe Bendik on top of his game, as he had been all night, much to the away team’s frustration.