Even in a losing cause, David Villa is bringing his postseason best to New York City FC. After the first leg of the Conference Semifinals, the Spaniard leads all players with amazing 1,243 points in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs edition of the Audi Player Index.
During a night that was otherwise dominated by Columbus Crew SC, Villa’s heroics included New York City’s only goal on the evening (303 Audi Index points) and another shot that hit the woodwork (118 points).
Villa finished the regular season with an Audi Player Index average of 639 points per match, which was good for second place behind Sebastian Giovinco. When it mattered most, he nearly doubled that total during the first leg against Crew SC, even if his team didn’t come through with the victory.
Elsewhere, Kendall Waston justified his inclusion in the shortlist for the league’s Defender of the Year honor, buttressing Vancouver’s defense en route to 1,048 Audi Player Index points. The Costa Rican bettered his season averages in several categories, including interceptions and headed clearances.
With key attacking players like Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera missing due to injury, Waston’s play helped prevent the high-scoring Seattle Sounders from notching a crucial away goal and puts Vancouver in a position to advance with a result from the return leg in Seattle.
The other two matches also showcased some excellent individual performances.
Chris Mavinga, not Giovinco, led the way for Toronto FC during their 2-1 opening leg victory against New York Red Bulls. The capable defender notched an excellent 734 points, more than double his regular season average of 325.
Finally, perhaps it’s fitting that a goalkeeper emerge as the top scorer in a 0-0 draw. Tyler Deric took that honor for the Portland Timbers-Houston Dynamo match, leveraging a series of diving and parried saves to earn 616 points. Deric will not feature in Leg 2 after being arrested Tuesday morning.
We’ll see who rises to the occasion as the second leg of the Conference Semifinals get underway on Thursday night, as Vancouver travels south for the decisive match against Sounders FC. (10:30 pm ET; FS1, FOX Deportes in US | TSN5, TVAS in Canada)