DC Goals: Rooney 8' & 74' (pen), Acosta 24'
NYCFC Goals: Villa 78'
New York City FC's hopes of securing home-field advantage for the MLS Playoffs will go down to Decision Day following a 3-1 defeat to DC United.
David Villa netted the consolation for the Boys in Blue after a Wayne Rooney brace and a goal from Luciano Acosta had put them 3-0 down.
Yangel Herrera made his long-awaited return from injury with 20 minutes remaining, providing one silver lining from City's first trip to Audi Field.
New York City FC’s aim for this final road encounter of the Regular Season was clear: win in the District and City would kick off their third MLS Playoffs tilt in the Bronx.
Domènec Torrent and his charges had 22 days to put things right after their defeat to Minnesota United last time out but, without the injured Jo Inge Berget and Maxi Moralez, away at the Eastern Conference’s form team, it would not be easy.
This assertion was borne out by the opening 10 minutes of play which saw a buoyant home side take advantage of any rustiness on the away team’s part.
First, Wayne Rooney will feel he should have scored inside the opening 60 seconds with a back post header which flashed wide and DC had the ball in the net four minutes later with a scrambled finish from a set-piece that was ruled out for offside.
If they were warning shots, they weren’t heeded, as the Boys in Blue fell behind on 8’ after Luciano Acosta slalomed through four defenders and cut the ball back for Rooney to bundle in.
It was a poor start from the road side but they rallied and were almost back in the game when David Villa got in on goal for the first time but former Blue Frederic Brillant did enough to force his old captain wide and El Guaje fired into the sidenetting.
Alexander Callens found the opposite sidenetting on 22’ with a header from a corner but the hosts broke up the other end and doubled their advantage two minutes later after a mazy run from Rooney paved the way for Acosta’s unstoppable strike.
2-0 down with less than a third of the game played, New York needed a reaction and shots from Taty Castellanos and David Villa, which were beaten away by Bill Hamid, seemed to signal some sign of resistance.
Possession seemed to come easier for NYC in the final 20 minutes of the first half which meant that 2-0 at least didn’t feel like an unassailable lead going in at the break.
NYCFC continued to push on in the second period and Castellanos lifted a presentable opportunity over the bar shortly after the restart. Alex Ring was next to line up a shot after great build-up play from second half substitute Ismael Tajouri-Shradi but the Finn couldn’t get the requisite purchase on his volley from the edge of the box.
Herrera's return from injury as a substitute came less than a minute before Rooney scored his second goal from the penalty spot after the linesman adjudged that Ring had handled in the area.
It looked a harsh call, with Alex contesting it was ball-to-hand, but the protests were waved away.
Villa briefly ignited hopes of a comeback with 12 minutes to go, scoring from an acute angle to maintain his place at the top of the NYC scoring charts but the Blues ran out of time.
NYCFC.com Star of the Game
El Guaje fought hard without many opportunities for a reward for the first 77' of this game but he never let his head drop and always made the runs to try and stretch the DC backline.
When he got a good chance, he took, scoring on 78' to hand New York hope and to signpost his scoring form going into the postseason.
Social Post of the Match…
Stats and Milestones
- Torrent made three changes to the lineup from the Minnesota defeat, bringing in Matarrita, Medina and Villa
- Yangel Herrera made his first appearance since May
- David Villa scored his 13th goal of the season
- This was New York City FC's first visit to DC's new Audi Field
How They Lined Up...
NYCFC XI: Johnson, Tinnerholm, Callens, Ibeagha, Matarrita, Ring, Ofori (Tajouri-Shradi 63'), Amagat (Herrera 72'), Medina, Castellanos (Wallace 78'), Villa (C)
Subs: Stuver, Sweat, Sands, McNamara