Another star turn from David Villa inspires NYCFC: "He lifts the team"

NEW YORK – Fresh off a contract extension and free of the virus that sidelined him a week ago, David Villa showed his class Sunday with a virtuoso performance at Yankee Stadium.

New York City FC’s captain scored a terrific goal and helped set up Maxi Moralez’s strike as part of a spectacular display in a 3-1 win over Atlanta United FC at Yankee Stadium.

A week ago, Villa was relegated to the team hotel because of a virus, forced to watch his team’s come-from-behind road win over Columbus Crew SC on television. On Sunday, the Spanish legend was front and center, leading NYCFC to a third win in their last four games.

“David is an important player for us and when he played the way he played today, he lifts the team. He’s one of the leaders,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “When he plays like he did today, the confidence builds in the team and that’s why its important for him to be at this level every single game.”

Villa scored a sensational goal on 17 minutes, blasting his finish from 17 yards out off the post and into the side netting for his sixth goal of the year. He brought the crowd to their feet again with another long-range effort and tracked back to win balls in the defensive third.

While Villa was showered with praise from the 25,605 in attendance, he deflected the attention in the NYCFC locker room afterward.

“We did well today. It’s one of the best, if not the best game in our season,” Villa said. “We have chances to score more goals, we play well, we don’t concede a lot. They score a goal, but they score a crazy, amazing goal. We defended well, we pressed well. I think we did almost 100 percent today well and congratulations to the team, the performance of the team was amazing.”

Villa said NYCFC were upset to be level at the break after Carlos Carmona equalized for Atlanta, leaving the home side feeling unrewarded for their performance in the first half.

They took that emotion with them onto the field to start the second stanza. After a wild sequence in the opening seconds of the half that saw Rodney Wallace denied on three scoring chances in quick succession, NYCFC scored twice in a one-minute span at the hour mark and maintained control down the stretch.

“We came to the pitch with a lot of energy, because we deserved it more,” Villa said. “The performance from the team in the second half was perfect from the start.”