NEW YORK – Patrick Vieira wanted a “massive response” from his team following their second consecutive fourth-round US Open Cup defeat to the New York Cosmos on Wednesday night.
New York City FC’s three Designated Players provided that response.
For the first time ever, Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo all scored in the same game and NYCFC withstood a furious rally for a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
“I was looking for the reaction and I had that reaction – it came from Frank, David and Andrea and that’s fantastic,” Vieira said. “But what I will keep in mind is the team performance. The way we played, especially in the first half and when we went through a difficult period with 10 men, how we stuck together. It was really difficult and getting the three points today was really important.”
The victory was only NYCFC’s second at Yankee Stadium this year and snapped a four-match winless streak. It also moved NYCFC into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference – two points behind the Union, who have a game in hand.
The start was key, but so too was the team’s resolve in the nervy end, which saw NYCFC play the final five minutes of regulation and four minutes of stoppage time with 10 men after Jason Hernandez was sent off for his second bookable offense. An own goal by Frederic Brillant in the 88th minute cut the once comfortable three-goal lead to just one.
But this time NYCFC would not concede a late goal and lose points. This time, they survived.
“What you saw is a team that had a lot of unlucky [moments] and misfortune toward the dying minutes of a game, so you saw a nervy team that was really tense,” Hernandez said. “Now that we got that out of the way, it was a great three points against a good team. The work continues and the process continues.”
In his first start of the season, Lampard provided the early spark with his first goal of the season. Villa followed with his league-leading 11th and the NYCFC lead was 2-0 in the 21st minute.
“When you can get one early, it gives you inner confidence,” Lampard said. “You mentioned our home record [2-3-5] not being great, so to score early certainly helps.”
Villa nearly had a brace but put a shot from nearly 50 yards out off the crossbar. And a brilliant Pirlo free kick, his first MLS goal, gave NYCFC a 3-0 lead five minutes into the second half, before the Union roared back.
It could have been another disastrous ending, but instead NYCFC survived an onslaught at the end and claimed three massive points.
“I think everybody was really hurt by how we lost to the Cosmos,” Vieira said. “It was really important for us to respond as a football club, as a team, to show how good we are and how strong we are. We didn’t make it easy on ourselves today. But the three points were really important for us.”