April 28, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) celebrates with midfielder Alejandro Romero Gamarra (10) and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) his goal scored against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the first half at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
When David Villa lined up to take his 22nd penalty kick in Major League Soccer on Sunday night against FC Dallas, he understood the historical significance plus the opportunity to keep New York City FC perfect at home and push the team back atop the MLS standings.
His 19th conversion – the captain’s 400th career goal — gave NYCFC the 2-1 advantage. His 401st closed the scoring in the 3-1 triumph.
“First of all it’s great for us after a big mistake we made in Portland,” Villa said, referring to the 3-0 defeat last week. “It’s the perfect moment.”
After scoring so many goals throughout his life, the former Valencia and Barcelona forward revealed the type of goals he likes best.
“I like when I score with the header,” Villa said. “For me, it’s not easy to score with the header – those are the goals that stand out.”
Villa has scored in every NYCFC home opener, including a headed tally to seal the game last March against DC United. However, his favorite goal among the 400 is difficult to dispute.
“The best came in Champions League final with Barcelona against Manchester United,” Villa said.
Barca defeated United, 3-1 in the 2011 title match.
Ibeagha more than able
For the second time this season in the absence of regular centerback Maxime Chanot, 2017 USL Defender of the Year Sebastien Ibeagha stepped in to the New York City starting XI.
Ibeagha helped NYCFC to a 2-1 triumph against the Galaxy in a pre-Ibra match at Yankee Stadium. He was even better in the 3-1 victory over previously unbeaten FC Dallas.
“Fantastically well,” coach Patrick Vieira said describing the performance. “Seb surprises me every day. He played today like he was with us for the last three years. It wasn’t easy at all – we played against one of the best teams in this league.”
Said Ibeagha: “I’m really confident in my game right now. That’s a testament to Patrick and the staff and the whole team. He preaches every week that anything can change, anyone can start – I’ve been lucky enough to come on and do well.”
Back-to-back losses rare
NYCFC lost on the road to Columbus and Philadelphia on April 16 and 23, respectively, in 2016. They have not succumbed in back-to-back games since.
New York City defeated FC Dallas after the team was blanked a week ago at Providence Park.
“I just think it’s the mental strength of the team – not accepting losing two games in a row,” Vieira said. “We need to show that Portland was a one-off — we had to go back to basics and try to improve some parts of the game we didn’t do well against Portland.”