"It was all about love."
That's how Patrick Vieira answered when a reporter joked with him about hugging David Villa too hard after the final whistle blew, signaling NYCFC's 3-2 comeback victory in the Hudson River Derby was official.
And after all, what's not to love? David Villa's hattrick was the difference in this hotly contested Derby match, his 75th-minute penalty proving to be the game winner. As it often seems to be, when Villa is firing on all cylinders, so is New York City.
"David is our leader," said Vieira, "When he is playing like that, that lifts the team, and players are behind him the whole way.
"When David is playing well, the team is playing well, and today... He was David"
David is many things to this NYCFC side, but he's consistently a player who shows up in big games time and time again. In front of a sold-out Yankee Stadium with a chance to lock up the season series against the Red Bulls, Villa delivered yet again, scoring his first-ever MLS hattrick.
"It was a big game, it was a Derby game," acknowledged Vieira.
"I think, of course, when you are on the winning side, it is a bit more easy to say, but that was a big game. Not just because it's a Derby, but I think tactically, it was a really interesting game.
"Both teams really played well. It was a really good game of football, and what made it a good game of football was that players like Wright-Phillips, like David, they were performing at that level."
While he was quick to acknowledge the play of top players on both sides of the pitch, Vieira also pointed out that he felt like his team was really up to the challenge. After a tough loss last weekend, NYCFC once again bounced back on a big stage, and the gaffer didn't hesitate to praise the performance.
He put it blunty: "This game today, I would put it in the top three best games we've played since I've been the coach of the team."
Like always, though, he knows that there isn't much time to bask in the glow of this victory. With a trip to Los Angeles looming next weekend, Vieira knows that there can be no letdowns if he wants to keep his side improving as the playoff race heats up in the Eastern Conference.
"This game was fantastic. We won the game, we take the three points, but I expect more consistency from the team," he said.
"Since the beginning of the season, what we need to improve is our commitment, our hard work game after game, and then the details will make the difference.
"We're going to have a day off on Monday, but on Tuesday I will be even more demanding from the players than last week."