MLS- New York City FC

Villa, Poku propel NYCFC over D.C. United

MLS: D.C. United at New York City FC

Photo by Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports


NEW YORK — New York City FC could not have found a better way to pick itself back up.

Just days after getting swept by its crosstown rivals Red Bulls and miring below the playoff line, NYCFC picked up a crucial win on Thursday night, defeating Eastern Conference-leading D.C. United, 3-1, at Yankee Stadium.

Two goals in the final 10 minutes turned the game around for the hosts as David Villa and Kwadwo Poku provided a crowd of 28,262 some electricity down the stretch.

Villa’s game-winner came in the 80th minute when Andrea Pirlo intercepted a D.C. pass near the midfield and connected with Villa, who was working his way into the box. Villa quickly launched a shot, despite being sandwiched between two defenders and beat goalkeeper Bill Hamid to the bottom-left corner. Pirlo also registered his first MLS assist in the process.

The exclamation point came eight minutes later when Poku made a long run into the box and unleashed a shot that slipped under Hamid to provide NYCFC with some insurance.

The outcome certainly came as a pleasant surprise to the home supporters, considering D.C.’s goal that opened the scoring put the home team in a familiar, compromising position.

Chris Rolfe’s interception in the 36th minute led him to a 2-on-2 situation down the field along with Alvaro Saborio. After Rolfe worked around NYCFC defender Jason Hernandez, he calmly laid the ball over to Saborio, who put it away to give D.C. just its eighth away goal on the season.

NYCFC had its first chance to equalize the contest shortly, though, when Poku made his first significant impact on the game.

After receiving a long pass from the backfield, Poku powered his way into the box and cut around two D.C. defenders before he passed to a wide-open David Villa on his left. Villa’s shot, however, went to the only place it shouldn’t have as it was cleared off the line by Bobby Boswell.

NYCFC went to the break down 1-0 but Poku’s influence spilled into the second half, and it did not take long for the home club to finally capitalize on his brilliance.

Working from the midfield, Villa launched a swerving pass down the field and found Poku on the run. The Ghanaian midfielder dribbled into the box and worked around a sprawling Hamid before he found Tommy McNamara in front of the net for the equalizer in the 50th minute.

Poku’s assist on the score upped his season total to a team-leading seven, despite the 23-year-old midfielder making just four starts on the year.

The win snapped a short two-match losing streak but put NYCFC in optimal position to fight for a playoff spot again.

NYCFC returns to action on Wednesday, Aug. 19 when it travels to Columbus to take on the Crew, while D.C. resumes league action on Aug. 22 when it hosts San Jose.

  • Tim D.

    I cannot wait to see NYCFC in Columbus next week, maybe Lampard will actually step foot in MAPFRE stadium. If they beat Crew, turning point in their season and standings. Their tear through MLS might just finally be coming.


    • quozzel

      Dunno. Truthfully I’d call up both…and see how close Poku is to getting his American citizenship as well. Poku is married to an American woman and already has his green card so it could be close.

      McNamara’s interesting. I watched him play at Clemson and he was a wizard on the ball. I wish he was faster and frankly, a little fitter – he’s a tad tubby for a professional soccer player – but he’s got the slickness, technical ability, vision, and understanding to be an elite pro and USMNT regular if he improves where he needs to improve.

      I was sorta mentally making a list of guys who could help the USMNT and here’s what I got:

      1) Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy (call him up yesterday)

      2) Robbie Rogers, LA Galaxy (still need a left back and Garza underwhelmed in Gold Cup)

      3) Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City (yeah, that guy and that argument again)

      4) Harrison Shipp, Chicago Fire (really underrated young winger)

      5) Perry Kitchen, DC United (could be Beckerman’s replacement)

      6) Thomas McNamara, NYCFC

      7) Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers (obviously contingent on getting US citizenship)

      8) Kwadwo Poku, NYCFC (ditto)

      Any other obvious names out there I’m missing?


      • Tim F.

        As much as I like McNamara, I can’t see him playing for the USMNT. Does Poku have US citizenship?


      • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

        Dom Dwyer in 2017…… should be at the top of this list in essence. he’s better than all the rest for sure.


    • Larry

      I was wondering the same. It seemed to me that McNamara was having a more productive impact.


    • Adam M.

      I think McNamara is talented but he makes a lot of bad decisions. I don’t see him as USMNT material at this point. As for Mix, NYCFC is playing him out of position and he is clearly suffering there. He’s not a wing player.


    • Turgid Jacobian

      This statement is insane. Who would look at that roster and say: whoa? Nobody! Good GK, good DM, a couple of old but decent winger/MFs, and a couple of solid but not spectacular Fs.


      • Nate Dollars

        yeah, dc’s pretty much the opposite of a paper tiger. they’ve been punching above their weight all year.


      • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

        you seem to not know the definition of a paper tiger…

        pa·per ti·ger


        a person or thing that appears threatening but is ineffectual.

        so DC would be the exact opposite of a paper tiger, nothing that stands out on paper but they’ve been getting the job done.


      • Sydney

        Top of the east would ‘appear’ to be something a good team would accomplish. The soccer geniuses on this site can see through that I suppose.


      • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

        you can be as snarky as you want but the fact is, by definition, DC United are NOT a paper tiger….. that is all……

        people have tried to point this out to you but you still believed yourself to be correct. as nate said “punching above their weight” does not make them a paper tiger, rather the opposite…..


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