PURCHASE, N.Y. – His team is still five games away from the midway point of the season, but David Villa is already certain.
This is the best New York City FC squad in the club’s three-year existence.
“I think so, but it’s not to say,” Villa said after training Thursday. “It’s working on the pitch, and we have to show everybody that we are the better team at the end of the year.”
Following a comprehensive 3-0 win over Orlando City Sunday night, NYCFC are third in the Eastern Conference with 20 points, six off the pace set by Toronto FC. They face a stern test with this weekend's visit to Atlanta United (Sunday, 5 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US, MLS LIVE in Canada), who'll be eyeing revenge for their comprehensive defeat at Yankee Stadium last month.
A year ago at this point, NYCFC had 17 points from their first 12 matches. In their inaugural campaign, they had seven points.
“The good thing this year is when we have a mistake, the team recovers very well the next game,” Villa said. “This is a good thing for us.”
Often when NYCFC lose, Villa laments his squad not getting what it deserves after having more chances and often more possession. Putting away chances, and teams, as was the case in wins over D.C., Atlanta and Orlando, is key.
“It’s important. I sometimes say we deserve it more because we play better, but finally in soccer the better team is the team that wins,” Villa said. “It’s important to not only play well, but to take the three points and the victory as well.”
The goal for NYCFC was always to give Villa more support. The team struggled to do that under Jason Kreis in Year 1, and last year Patrick Vieira switched formations to do just that.
Now, Villa has been thriving with the addition of Maxi Moralez, a big reason NYCFC are a better squad this year.
“He’s a great player, a talented player and for me it’s easy to play close to him,” Villa said. “I know perfectly that I need to give moments for him when he has the ball, because he sees you.”
That was the case in Villa’s second goal Sunday night. Some nice interplay between the two led to Moralez lofting the ball over the top of the Orlando City defense to Villa, and the NYCFC captain scoring his second of the game.
“There’s a good connection between the two of them,” Vieira said. “They understand and smell the game the same way. I think the last goal we scored against Orlando was a good sign of them understanding the game the same way.”