For Khiry Shelton, his goal against D.C. United in a 2-0 win Sunday night at RFK Stadium was a first of its kind.
“[Ronald Matarrita] got a foot on the ball and whipped in a nice ball and I was able to get onto it and it hit my head and it hit my shoulder,” Shelton said. “So, first shoulder goal.”
It was Shelton’s second goal of the season, and third as a professional in his second season with New York City FC. Shelton also had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Fire on March 6, the club’s other win away from Yankee Stadium this season.
Shelton, the second overall selection in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, has started seven games this season, including the last four, and has a point in each of the last three games, with assists in a win over Vancouver and a tie against Eastern Conference-leading Montreal.
“I think confidence builds, of course,” Shelton said. “I think over time, getting more games under my belt has done well for me.”
Shelton also set up David Villa’s game-winning goal four minutes into the second half. He made a strong run from the right touchline toward the 18-yard box and cut back outside before sending in a cross to the top of the six-yard box.
Tommy McNamara laid it off for Villa, who put his first time shot into the net from 13 yards out.
Shelton then tacked on an important insurance tally just four minutes later when he split a pair of defenders to latch onto a Matarrita cross.
“I was really happy with the way he worked today because he worked hard for the team and he managed to find himself in a really good position and score a goal, but the work he did for the team was fantastic,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “This is one of the best games I’ve seen him play so far. I believe there is a lot to come from him because of the work and the talent.”
Shelton credits an invite to Jürgen Klinsmann’s January U.S. National Team camp for kick-starting his second season in Major League Soccer.
“It’s been great and I’ve learned a lot coming from January camp with the men’s team,” Shelton said. “Right off the bat, I was on the ball and I think me being on the ball more and more is just going to get me better, and even in preseason we were on the ball a lot, a lot of technical and tactical stuff and just getting better.”