New arrivals Wallace, Moralez pace NYCFC vs. DC, promise even bigger upside

NEW YORK – After a cold shooting night in Orlando last week, New York City FC’s attack caught fire Sunday afternoon, putting four past D.C. United at frigid Yankee Stadium.

David Villa hit two goals and an assist, making it three consecutive home openers in which he’s scored for NYCFC. Rodney Wallace and Maxi Moralez each marked their home debuts with a goal and an assist.

Villa’s brace was the 10th in his MLS career. He lost the D.C. defenders with his movement off the ball on his first goal, then for his second, lost them with his movement on it. While they were shut out in their season-opening loss at Orlando City, Villa said Sunday’s performance was a continuation of that performance.

“I think we played well in Orlando and we deserved more,” said the Spaniard. “We had more chances and more possession, but we had less goals than them and they won. But today, we were better in front of the target, better when we had the chance to score goals. We played the same way here and in Orlando – the difference between the games was that we were more right in the last minute.”

Wallace opened the scoring in the eighth minute, cleaning up the rebound after Jack Harrison’s shot hit the crossbar. He assisted on Villa’s first goal 20 minutes later with a well-placed cross from the left flank. The former D.C. standout has quickly established himself as NYCFC’s starter at left wing despite arriving to the team late in preseason; on Sunday he admitted he’s still developing his connections with the rest of the team.

“It’s slowly coming along. It’s going to take time, but I thought today was the start of something good,” Wallace said. “We’ve been working a lot on our triangles and our relationships. Today was a complete game and we showed what we could do. We set high standards for ourselves and it makes it harder for us to get better, but we have that potential.”

Moralez provided the link between midfield and attack, often dropping deep to provide an outlet for the team to build up from the back. He added NYCFC’s third with a well-placed shot into the bottom corner.

Along with the goal and assist, Moralez won the header that led to the first goal and played Wallace in behind for the second. Another late arrival into City’s squad, Moralez is finding the space in the midfield, exactly what head coach Patrick Vieira wants to see from him.

“He and [Andrea Pirlo] and [Alexander Ring] are well-disciplined on the field and it’s really easy for them to find each other, and that was really good especially in the game,” Vieira said. “We have a plan and it’s when Maxi drops to help in the midfield, in our buildup, we always try to find players to get to his position. We have a clear idea and a clear way to play and to build up from the back, and that suits Maxi quite really well.”