By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith
Photos by Tisha Gale // @gale_tisha
Saturday, May 19: 4-0 Win
This day was officially proclaimed “David Villa Day” in New York City to celebrate the captain’s 400th career and country goal and his contributions to New York City sports. Despite the decidedly un-Spanish weather with epic downpours and frigid temperatures, New York City Football Club hosted a goal-scoring party against the Colorado Rapids in his honor.
It was a festive celebration from the opening of the gates with the first 10,000 fans arriving receiving replica captain armbands and the first 400 founding members receiving commemorative “400” pins. Fans huddled together under umbrellas and under overhangs to watch Villa receive his official mayoral proclamation as well as gifts and accolades presented by NYCFC President Jon Patricof, City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano, Andy Drelick of the Third Rail supporters’ group and New York City Councilperson for the 21st district, Francisco Moya. Even Belgian Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany attended the match.
At kickoff, spirits were high and the supporters’ section, specifically Los Templados and their epic drumming, was louder than ever. NYCFC dominated the match, despite statistics showing a 65% possession rate. The pouring rain gave both sides a lot of unexpected touches, bounces and sliding to contend with particularly with players’ bodies launched into the air multiple times.
In typical Villa form, he scored twice to mark his 403rd and 404th goals and was joined in scoring by Maxi Moralez, who also had two assists and first time 2018 scorer, Ronald Matarrita. Movement, despite the choppy ball bounces and lack of pace on the pitch due to the rain, was fluid and purposeful. At times, it appeared as if the Rapids gave up on pressuring NYCFC for the ball. That, and a snappy new tweaked formation allowed City to run away with the game.
Jesús Medina did not start, following a few games with less than stellar performances but when he was subbed in for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, at 62′ he brought good movement, awareness of space and was heavily involved in some good scoring opportunities with Villa and Moralez. Fans are hoping that he is returning to the form he displayed earlier in the season.
The change to a 3-5-2 allowed both Matarrita and Tajouri-Shradi to attack down both wings and opened up space in the middle for Moralez to float and make trouble and to collaborate smoothly with Villa and Jo-Inge Berget up top.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson had two tight saves in the dwindling minutes of the game to keep NYCFC’s sheet clean.
How did Matarrita manage not to freeze in his short-sleeved jersey? He was the only City player not in long sleeves. Do his tattoo sleeves keep him warm?
Featured image: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha
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