TORONTO | As the weather has heated up, so has New York City FC.
The Club continued their hot stretch since Memorial Day Weekend, winning their third-consecutive Major League Soccer match and extending their unbeaten run to four after a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC in front of 30,029 on Saturday evening at BMO Field.
Captain David Villa scored once in each half to bring his season tally to six as New York City FC improve to 4-7-5 (17 points). Toronto FC, which came into the match on a three-match winning streak, drops to 6-6-1 (19 points).
"I couldn’t be more pleased," head coach Jason Kreis said. "We said yesterday in the team meeting that this was going to require a massive effort and this was probably going to be our biggest challenge of the year and our players rose to it. I couldn’t be more pleased or happy for the guys and proud of the effort they put forth."
"It was massive," defender Shay Facey said. "There’s no better feeling coming away with a win against a team like Toronto. Nobody expected us to come away with that result, but we did."
Since snapping an 11-match winless stretch, New York City FC has taken 10 out of a possible 12 points from their last four matches.
The Club needed just eight minutes for the first breakthrough of the evening.
Mehdi Ballouchy’s corner kick was headed on by Andrew Jacobson at the near post. The ball went off of Benoit Cheyrou’s arm as the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Villa stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner for a 1-0 lead.
From there the match got chippy and physical, but New York City FC never lost composure. Goalkeeper Josh Saunders (four saves) preserved the one-goal advantage with a series of saves in about three minutes.
Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco was denied on a free kick from approximately 25 yards out in the 29th minute as Saunders dove to his left to punch the ball away.
Toronto FC maintained the pressure. One minute later, Giovinco found an overlapping Justin Morrow down the left side. The defender fired in a low cross to Michael Bradley, but the midfielder’s one-timed effort from 6 yards out was kick saved by the veteran Saunders.
In the 31st minute, forward Luke Moore beat the defense and found himself with a one-on-one opportunity, but Saunders denied his effort.
"I think the win in Philly (on June 6) gave us confidence to calm down and play a little bit more," Saunders said. "It’s like Jay said, we had the gorilla on our back and essentially we got that off and it gave us the freedom to play a little more and have that confidence. I think that’s been the biggest thing -- just our ability to trust each other and go forward and get in good spaces."
The score remained 1-0 at halftime.
Just as New York City FC got off to a quick start in the first half, the Club replicated the feat after the interval.
In the 58th minute, Mix Diskerud gained possession just outside of the Toronto FC penalty box. He fed a rushing Tommy McNamara down the right side. As he was falling down, McNamara crossed the ball to Ballouchy to his left. Just as he did in the 3-1 win against Montreal on June 13, Ballouchy unselfishly played the ball across to Villa, who fired it home for another goal.
New York City FC return to the field against the Red Bulls on Sunday. Kickoff is 5 p.m. EDT from Yankee Stadium. The match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
"It’s important we enjoy this for a moment because we have had some real painful times not so long ago," Kreis said. "Three nights ago we had a really painful moment (losing in the U.S. Open Cup), so it’s important we enjoy it for a day or even two days because we have a long week ahead of us. We don’t play until Sunday, but when we get back to work, we’re going to hit it pretty hard."