David Villa, New York City FC's spirits buoyed by first win streak of 2016

WASHINGTON – David Villa’s game-winner against D.C. United on Sunday evening looked like many other goals the former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid forward has scored in his storied career: a clinical, one-timed rope from 14-yards out.

He struck it with confidence. It was never not going to be a goal.

But it was what happened before the strike – a crafty exchange between R.J. Allen, Khiry Shelton and Thomas McNamara – that had Villa smiling after the match.

“It was a team goal,” Villa said in Spanish. “Un golazo colectivo.”

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“I like seeing that. There was buildup there, from one side to the other, like we’ve been working on during the week. Obviously the ball in from Khiry was great and McNamara laid it off perfectly.”

Shelton added another just minutes later as NYCFC cruised to a 2-0 victory, their second consecutive win after a seven-game winless streak. For Villa – a player who’s worn his emotions on his sleeve throughout New York’s early struggles – the past two weeks seem to have been a refreshing dose of joy.

I’m obviously happy,” said Villa. “We worked all week towards a victory here; it was obviously important to get a win on the road and to get two wins a row. It’s an important win not just for the three points but for the morale of the team.”

After a scrappy opening half hour, NYCFC seemed to grow into the game. They were at times shaky defensively, but they made up for it in the final third as Villa, McNamara and Shelton displayed an understanding that’s been lacking in many of New York’s other performances this season.

“[David’s] really easy to play with,” McNamara told MLSsoccer.com. “I just try to work off of him and find space off of his movement. In turn, when I’m looking upfield he’s one of our better if not our best player, so I’m always looking to combine with him around the 18-yard box. I think Andrea [Pirlo] has also tilted to that side a bit and with [Ronald Matarrita] overlapping, we’re dangerous out there. “

“We have to go step by step,” Villa added. “We have to stay the course – obviously we’ve known for a while that we have to go into these games and play hard, run hard, go into every challenge like it’s the last one. We can compete with anyone. I think you see that fight in the past two games and it’s no coincidence that we’ve gotten results out of them.”